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a I B R.AR.Y 

OF THL 
U N I VLRSITY 
or ILLINOIS 

8Z3 
T685b 



BOI^D AND FREE. 



THE AUTHOR OF « CASTE," 



' But ill for him who, bettering not with time, 
Corrupts the strength of heaven-descended Will, 
And ever weaker grows through acted crime." 



IN THREE VOLUMES. 
VOL. n. 



LONDON: 

HURST AND BLACKETT, PUBLISHERS 
SUCCESSORS TO HENRY COLBURN, 

13, GREAT MARLBOROUGH STREET. 

1860. 
The right of Translation is reserved. 



LONDON • 

printed by r. born, gloucester street, 
regent's park. 






BOND AND FREE. 



CHAPTER I. 

" Ick Weiss nicht was mich hier gefallt 
In dieser enger kleiner Welt 
Mit holder Zauberhand mich halt." 

" I could almost believe that she loves me ! 
She sighs so oft, and she speaks so low ; 
And her hand, when I take it in my hand, 
Seems so softly reluctant to go ! " 

Mr. Narpenth's carriage drew up early 
one morning at the gate of the cabbage- 
ground, before the cottage in which Wilfred 
lodged. 

It was a fine morning, late in October; 
it happened that Wilfred was standing 

VOL. II. B 



2 BOND AND FREE. 

in the narrow path of this same cabbage- 
ground — admiring the glistening, dew-laden 
gossamer webs, which had formed a silver 
net-work over the homely vegetables — when 
Mr. Narpeuth's footman swung open the 
gate and came up the path, a note in 
his hand. 

Wilfred took the note from him ; as 
he did so, he saw that Miss Narpenth 
leant forward in the carriage and bowed. 
He could do no less than approach her to 
pay his respects. 

There was something soft and conciliating 
in Miss Narpenth's manner this morning 
which made her peculiarly attractive. Wil- 
fred leant awhile on the carriage-door talking 
to her — looking remarkably handsome as 
he stood bare-headed in the bright morning 
sunshine. They had conversed for some 
minutes before he became aware that Mrs. 
Lister was in the carriage, reclining in the 



BOND AND FREE. 3 

far corner. Bowing to her, and apologizing 
for not having seen her sooner, he said some- 
thing about being dazzled by the bright light 
— involuntarily glancing at Eleanour's bril- 
liant face as he did so. When Mrs. Lister 
had acknowledged his greeting, and listened 
to his apology, she said — 

" The horses are fresh, Miss Narpenth. 
I observe that the coachman can hardly 
manage to make them stand quiet. Had 
we not better proceed ? " 

The expression of her eyes as she 
averted them from Wilfred's did not har- 
monize with the cold preciseness with 
which she spoke; but Wilfred and Elea- 
nour were too much occupied with each 
other to notice this. 

"Well! we must go," Eleanour said, 
" and you will come this evening. By-the- 
bye, as I have seen you, you can give me 
back my note." 

b2 



4 BOND AND FREE. 

She saw it in his hand, and extended 
hers to take it; but a perverse impulse 
made him put the hand that held it be- 
hind him, and shake his head. 

" Excuse me ! This note is no longer 
yours, but mine^ and I choose to keep it." 

'^Not if I heg you to return it to me." 
The white and jewelled hand was still 
extended in the sunshine, and the face had 
some earnestness in it. 

"Are you serious in wishing to have it 
back?" 

Wilfred, shading his eyes with his hand, 
lifted a somewhat audaciously keen glance 
to the face above him, as he spoke. 

Eleanour drew back quickly — 

"It is no great matter ! " she said — 
"good-bye, till this evening." Her face 
was half averted as her hand was held out 
again; this time in leave-taking. 

Almost before their hands had parted, 



BOND AND FREE. 5 

the carriage dashed off. Mrs. Lister ut- 
tered a low cry and stretched before Miss 
Narpenth, to look back along the road. 

" He stood so close, I fancied the wheel 
might have knocked him down or gone 
over his feet; but he is safe/' she said to 
Eleanour, as she recomposed herself in her 
corner, with a slight shudder. 

Eleanour smiled inappropriately, made 
some inappropriate remark ; then both the 
occupants of the carriage sank into pro- 
foundly meditative silence. 

Wilfred felt himself unsettled for in-door 
work that day, and so set out for a long 
walk. It was while resting by the way- 
side that he opened Miss Narpenth's note ; 
he had thrust it into his breast-pocket, 
with an air of mock gallantry, as she 
drove off. 

" I begin without a beginning," she wrote, 
" because I do not know how to please 



6 BOND AND FREE. 

myself with a beginning : it does not 
much matter, for I fear this note will 
come back to me, never having said 
anything to you. I am prepared to find 
that you have left Thorndon, and that 
nobody knows where you are gone." (^ That 
is what I ought to have done, probably,^ 
thought Wilfred.) " It is now a long time 
since we last saw you, and you have a 
habit of disappearing and reappearing unex- 
pectedly, we know : though I say I am pre- 
pared to find that you are gone, I shall 
be — I do not know exactly what — if I find 
such is really the case. 

^*You seem to have no consideration 
for the burdensomeness of the gratitude we 
bear towards my ^ deliverer from a watery 
grave,' or surely you would give us more 
opportunity of freeing ourselves from it ; 
but it is no use to write reproaches which, 
if you merit them in this instance, will 



BOND AND FREE. 7 

never reach you. The whole object of this 
note is to beg you, if you are still living like 
a Prince in disguise at your cottage, to come 
and dine with us this evening. If you are 
at the cottage and refuse to come, I shall 
think — well, I do not know what I shall 
think. Papa desired me to write and ask 
you to come. Is it 'improper' of me 
not to have written an invitation more 
en regie? If so, forgive me this and all 
other offences.^' 

The question with which this note con- 
cluded led Wilfred to wonder how it was 
that Miss Narpenth — gifted as she was and 
much as he admired her — did not inspire him 
with that feeling of timidity, almost awe, 
with which, according to his theory, true 
women should have it in their power to 
inspire men. 

He could not imagine himself laughing and 
jesting — so soon feeling on intimate and 



8 BOND AND FREE. 

familiar terms as he did with Eleanour Nar- 
penth — with — well, if his ideal woman must 
have a name, that name must be — Felicia. 
Then he thought a good deal of Felicia — of 
how, though she was but a child when he 
saw her first, he had then conceived a re- 
verent affection for her ; which had not since 
suffered loss or change. 

*^ She must be quite a woman now," he 
said, " and surely the woman will not be 
less an object of loving reverence than was 
the child. And yet, it may be, that my 
boyish shyness, my want of familiarity with 
the ways and wiles of a lovely, sweet- 
natured child, had something to do with 
my peculiar feeling towards Felicia. If I 
met her now I might regard her with 
different eyes ; yet I cannot believe that I 
should ever regard her with other than re- 
verent eyes." 

He mused by the wayside so long that 



BOND AND FREE. y 

he had to walk fast in order to reach the 
cottage in time to dress for dinner. 

Mrs. Lister appeared at the table this 
evening. She was placed opposite Wilfred; 
he found that his eyes fixed themselves upon 
her face oftener, and rested there longer, than 
was quite consistent with politeness; but 
she did not appear to be conscious of 
his scrutiny, and hers was a face to which 
any observant eyes would return again and 
again. 

Her finely-chiselled features looked as if 
they had been fretted sharp by suffering; 
the full, red-lipped mouth appeared much too 
fresh and young to have such weary lines 
about it; the eyes much too youthfully 
brilliant to shine in such deep and dark 
hollows. The ordinary expression of her 
face was of something between haughty re- 
sistance and humble endurance : to which 
it inclined most and oftenest it was im- 



10 BOND AND FREE. 

possible to say ; as impossible as to decide 
what her age might be — what marks had 
been set upon her by sorrow, and what 
by time. 

Mrs. Lister was treated with great de- 
ference and little cordiality by Mr. Nar- 
penth ; his daughter's manner to her dame 
de compagnie was not easy to understand. 
Sometimes it was caressingly familiar — 
sometimes cold and repelling; but its 
capricious changes seemed very little to 
affect the object of them. 

Early in the evening Mrs. Lister and 
Mr. Narpenth sat down to a chess-table 
which stood ready near the fire, as if it 
were in constant use. 

Wilfred, having begged for music, was 
taken by Eleanour into a smaller and 
very pretty room opening out of the draw- 
ing-room. 

" Tell me what to play. What style of 



BOND AND FREE. 11 

music do you prefer ? '' Eleanour questioned, 
as Wilfred opened the piano and arranged 
the lights; while she turned over the con- 
tents of a folio. 

*^ I am rather ignorant concerning both 
ancient and modern composers— I may say 
very ignorant. Suppose you give me a 
lesson : let me hear several different styles 
of music — play from old and new masters — 
good and bad compositions — try my powers 
of discrimination." 

^'' You set me a task which makes it for- 
tunate that we begin early in the evening," 
Eleanour answered, smiling; pointing to a 
luxuriously easy chair near the piano, she 
added — ^* Sit there, if you please ; do not 
trouble to try and turn over the leaves 
and I will endeavour to do as you wish." 

She began with a prelude and fugue of 
Sebastien Baches; one of his most scientific 
and least passionate compositions. 



1 2 BOND AND FREE. 

"How do you like that?" she asked, 
turning towards Wilfred, when her skilful 
fingers had drawn out link after link of 
its intricate harmonies. 

" It does not please me ; at all events, not 
on a first hearing, because it does not touch 
or move me. In listening to it, I feel as 
if I were watching its elaboration by a great 
master of art who was just then com- 
placently playing with science to prove his 
mastery of it, instead of allowing himself 
to be carried out of himself, and swept 
away by the power of his inspiration. Is 
this composer's music all of this kind ? " 

For answer, Eleanour played two short 
Figurirter Chorals — "Das alte Jahr vergan- 
gen ist," also " Wer nur den lieben Gott lasst 
walten f and a " Fantasie Pathetique." 

" Those are, in different ways, wonder- 
fully soul-stirring — the first seemed to me a 
despairing wail; the voice of despair more 



BOND AND FREE. 13 

abject than passionate : the second is a 
noble profession of faith, dashed with me- 
lancholy, as even the faith of a great and 
thoughtful man often must be in these days : 
the last has a passionate self-assertion, and a 
pathetic abandonment, that thrilled through 
me. Still, am I right if I set this master 
down as one of those whose genius is apt 
to be fettered by too much love of science, 
and only now and then to break into free 
flights ?'' 

" But the rare free flights must be the 
more gloriously free for the perfect mastery 
of science." 

" I suppose so ; but all power brings 
with it its peculiar dangers and tempta- 
tions. Do you remember what Goethe said 
to Eckermann, after listening to some music, 
modern in his day, about the technical 
and mechanical improvement in their art 
having brought the newest composers into 



14 BOND AND FREE. 

a strange state? He considered that their 
productions were no longer niusic, because 
they went beyond the level of human feel- 
ing; so that one could give them no re- 
sponse from the mind and heart, but heard 
with the ears only/' 

** That is far more true of more modern 
composers — Thalberg, Lizt, and all their 
school — than of those of whom Goethe said it ; 
and these, I suppose, acknowledge the truth 
that they go beyond the level of human 
feeling when they call their works ' Music of 
the Future/ " 

"I did not exactly mean to apply Goethe's 
words to what you have just played, though, 
perhaps, that first thing is an error of the 
kind he meant, and recalled his words to 
me ; but we must not be tempted into dis- 
cussion, or your fingers will not discourse 
half enough to satisfy me. You see that I 



BOND AND FREE. 15 

do not recognize the possibility of their 
growing tired. Ought I to do so ? '' 

^^I never tire of playing to myself, or 
to any one who is worth playing for and 
really wishes to hear me : but I detest 
playing for mere form's sake, when I am 
asked for mere form's sake. When I know 
that others want to hear me as little as 
I care to perform for them the whole thing 
becomes a farce, and justifies an opinion 
I once heard expressed, that music — young 
lady's music — is the bore of modern society." 

Choosing next one of Mozart's masses, 
Eleanour played some of the finest pass- 
ages from it — and then immediately after 
took up Rossini's * Stabat Mater,' which 
she used in the same way. 

"We heard all you have just played 
in the Cologne Cathedral, and you told 
me then what it was we listened to," 
Wilfred said. "You remember the young 



16 BOND AND FREE. 

monk with the splendid tenor voice, and 
the really spiritual face? The two com- 
positions strike me now as they did then. 
The first, as genuine church-music, full of 
pious and tender feeling ; here and there 
rising to solemnity and grandeur. Ros- 
sini's work, though beautiful in its way, 
seems to me like the expression of 
spurious, dramatized devotion. It is such 
music as (if one thought it allowable to 
represent on the stage so sacred a thing 
as religious worship) one would desire to 
hear at the Opera in a cathedral scene. 
The composer appears to me to be atti- 
tudinizing — to have to recompose himself 
to the necessary solemnity of mood con- 
tinually; and, in spite of his utmost en- 
deavours to throw a sacerdotal garb over 
it, the theatrical tinsel perpetually peeps 
out in passages of florid ornamention." 
" I doubt if your taste is as unculti- 



BOND AND FREE. 17 

vated as you pretend, Mr. Mason ! And 
your ear must be good to have recognized 
those fragments immediately." 

"I did not recognize them immediately: 
my thoughts went wandering back, till they 
found themselves with you in the Cathedral 
at Cologne ; but they were some time 
getting there, and took many things on 
their way.'^ 

Beethoven's " Moonlight Sonata '^ was the 
next thing Miss Narpenth played. 

^^ I must hear that again and again," 
Wilfred said ; " will you play it for me 
every time I come here, till I a little 
understand it ? " Asking this, and looking 
into the softened light of Eleanour's eyes, 
Wilfred had no thought of anything but 
her beauty, and the beauty of the music; 
no feeling save of the most complete, 
though rather tumultuous enjoyment. The 

VOL. II. c 



18 BOND AND FREE. 

music had made his heart beat and his 
pulses throb ; but each throb and each 
heart-beat had its delicious pleasure. 

"The beauty of the first part is as 
apparent as is the beauty of a lovely land- 
scape or of a lovely face by clear moonlight," 
he continued; "but an under-tone of grief 
and mystery appears to run through it ; 
just as ugly things may lurk in the black- 
ness of moonlight shadows. In the after- 
parts the mystery seems to deepen and 
the grief to grow wild; struggling against 
the power of some oppressive spell. Pray 
remember to let me hear the ^Moonlight 
Sonata' often — it will haunt me till I can 
at least fancy that I comprehend it." 

When Eleanour began playing Mendels- 
sohn's " Lieder ohne Worte," Wilfred — leaning 
back in his chair, shading his eyes from 
the light, and between his screening fingers 
watching the player's expressive face — aban- 



BOND AND FREE. 19 

doned himself completely to uncriticizing, 
fascinated enjoyment. 

" I have nothing to say but ^ go on/ " 
he observed, when Eleanour paused. She 
complied for a little while ; then she laid 
aside the book — allowed her fingers to 
stray dreamingly among the notes, while 
the lids drooped dreamingly over eyes fixed 
upon the keys, as she pressed out a low 
sad strain. Suddenly she raised her head, 
seemed to rouse herself from her reverie, 
and dashed off into one of Chopin's wildest 
waltzes — playing louder and louder, faster 
and faster, till her fingers seemed to fly 
invisibly over the notes, crashing out the 
strangely-recurring chords more and more 
pa-ssionately. When it was impossible 
for her to increase the speed or power 
she broke off suddenly ; putting her hand 
over her eyes, she said she was as giddy 
as if she had been waltzing. 

c2 



20 BOND AND FREE. 

Awakened from his luxurious ease, for 
the last few moments Wilfred had bent 
forward, watching those flying fingers with 
a contracted brow. 

" Do you know the legend of ' Die Teu- 
fels-tanzerinn ? ' " he asked. 

"No, I do not think I have ever 
heard it. What is it ? Will you tell it 
to me?" 

Eleanour leant back in her chair, still 
playing with the keys as she turned 
her eyes on Wilfred. Her colour was 
heightened ; her breathing quickened ; she 
spoke as if out of a dream — with a soft 
dreamy languor. 

"If you will play a few bars of that 
wildest part very softly, I will try and 
tell you the legend. Still more softly — 
that will do! Now then! Once upon a 
time, there lived at a small Ehine village 
— which I will call Freigriin — a maiden of 



BOND AND FREE. 21 

the name of Lischen. This maiden led 
an ungodly life : she cared much for 
fetes, and little for fasts; she frequented 
the village-dances more than the church- 
services; she inclined far more to the 
hearing of confessions of love than to 
the making confessions of sin ; and she 
preferred giving absolution to a gay 
young dancer, to receiving it from a 
shaven old priest. This was bad, very 
bad, saith the chronicle. 

"This gay maiden fell sick, and was 
told that she was sick unto death: she had 
danced late into a summer night, and then, 
to cool her fevered blood, had lingered out 
under the dew-laden lindens, beneath which 
gathered the heavy night-mists which creep 
up from the Ehine — whether she lingered 
alone or not the legend does not discover. 
Before the next nightfall the hand of sick- 
ness was heavy upon her. 



22 BOND AND FREE. 

"Lischen, being young, gav, pretty, and 
not portionless, loved life dearly, and 
shuddered much (grauet sich sehr) at the 
thought of the purgatory into which she 
must enter after that death from which 
the priest said that only the immediate 
and miraculous intercession of the Virgin 
could save her. The leech, whatever he 
might think, and whatever confidence he 
might have in his own simples, did not 
dare to contradict the priest. So from 
him the poor child obtained no con- 
solation. Believing that, unless something 
desperate were done, her end was near, 
Lischen made three vows to the virgin : 
that if she recovered she would at once 
give half her portion to the Church ; 
that her feet should never again move to 
the sound of music in the dance ; that 
after a few years she would take the 
veil, and endow the sisterhood she joined 



BOND AND FREE. 23 

with the remainder of her fortune. From 
the time these vows were registered she 
improved rapidly — the priest kept at a 
distance, and the leech had fair play. 
Her feet were soon able to move lightly 
and nimbly again ; but her heart was very 
heavy for thinking of her vows. 

"One fete-day — the first after her reco- 
very — having donned her best attire and 
carefully dressed her hair, Lischen climbed 
the hill that, overlooking the Ehine, frowns 
above the village of Freigriin ; to try and 
escape from the sounds of music and 
mirth, grown hateful to her now that she 
was shut out from their enjoyment. Both 
her heart and her feet greatly desired 
the abjured dance. 

" She reached a high terrace looking 
towards the river ; there she sat down. 
She watched the sun set, all the gay 
colours fade from the opposite hills, and 



24 BOND AND FREE. 

everything grow cold and gray; but she 
had no pleasure in aught she saw — she 
did not love to hear the glad evening 
song of the birds — she did not love that 
any creatures should be gay and happy 
while she was sad. She shuddered at the 
thought of the dulness and gloom of her 
future life, almost as much as she had 
shuddered at the prospect of purgatory — 
and while she shuddered at the one she 
hardened her heart against belief in the 
other. If only that old priest were dead ! 
She thought that no one else knew of 
her vows. 

**As she sat there on that highest vine- 
terrace, evil spirits were behind her, and 
on both sides of her : the evening-wind 
joined the tempters, wafting up to her 
the sounds of music and laughter from 
the Tanz-platz below. There was an image 
of the Virgin near her; once she turned 



BOND AND FREE, 25 

towards it and tried to pray ; but the 
wind blew stronger, the laughter sounded 
gayer, the music louder; to crown all, the 
players played her favourite waltz — -the waltz 
to the intoxicating music of which she had 
danced with the young Baron, little think- 
ing it would be for the last time. 

" She turned away from the Virgin ; she 
sat looking towards the village, and listen- 
ing to the gay strains. Meanwhile, to the 
feet of the image there crept a poor Mag- 
dalen, who, raising clasped hands and stream- 
ing eyes, cried in the spirit, if not in the 
words, of Gretchen : — 

'' ' Acli neige, 

Du Schmerzenreiche, 

Dein Antlitz gnadig meiner Noth ! 

Hilf ! rette mich von Schmacli und Tod ! ' 

"The sounds of her lamentations reaching 
Lischen, that maiden felt as if she were 
in bad company : throwing a glance of scorn 



26 BOND AND FREE. 

over her shoulder towards the abject suppli- 
cant, she rose and went farther from her. 

" * That will be the Eoschen ! ' she mut- 
tered; she went her way without one pity- 
ing word or one tender thought for the 
penitent. 

" Down she went ; down towards the village 
and the Tanz-Platz, lower and lower, one ter- 
race after the other — farther from her reli- 
gion and its charities ; nearer her world 
and its vanities. Now she has descended 
the hill-side ; she has stolen stealthily near to 
the Tanz-Platz ; she stands behind a linden 
and looks on. 

" Ach ! her rival, Clarchen, is Queen of 
the fete, and dances with — Ach, Gott ! — 
with the young Herr Baron ! Envy, hatred, 
love, and pride swell her breast, till it seems 
as if it would burst its silver-laced bo- 
dice — till the bodice is literally too narrow, 
and the silver lace flies. Little heeds Lis- 



BOND AND FREE. 27 

chen ; her cheeks glow and her heart beats 
fast with consciousness of her own charms 
— for her glass tells her that she is fairer 
than ever. Did she choose to appear, she could 
in a few moments eclipse that Clarchen with 
whom the young Herr Baron smiles and whis- 
pers so gaily. She could eclipse her, and 
could reign in her stead. 

" Lischen moves from behind the tree ; 
she stands where the little coloured lights 
can shine upon her: they shine upon the 
thick plaits of her glossy hair; upon her 
brilliant eyes and red cheeks ; upon the 
snow of the white bosom, in which the 
ambitious, envious, wicked little heart is 
beating tumultuously and firily. She is 
seen ; her friends whisper and smile, and 
Clarchen passing, hanging on the Baron's 
arm, says, pointing to her: — 

" * There is the poor Lischen — she can 
no longer dance ! ' 



28 BOND AND FREE. 

^'The young man pauses before her — he 
bends his bold, bright glance upon the girl ; 
she trembles beneath it. Was it indeed 
the young Baron, or the Evil One in his 
form? The bold glance seemed to burn on 
Lischen's brow and breast. 

" ' Is it so, Lischen ? * he asks ; ^ has 
some rash vow fettered those lightest of 
feet? Have the priests got possession of 
the best dancer and the prettiest maiden 
in Freigrlin ? ' 

" She looks up at him ; as glance meets 
glance the glow deepens on her cheeks. 
She has no need to speak. He drops 
Clarchen's hand, he holds out his arms 
to Lischen. Her heart now swelling with 
triumphant joy, all else forgotten, she flies 
into the arms of the tempter ; she is whirled 
away into the circle of dancers. 

^* By-and-bye, one by one, the other couples 
drop off; it grows late — the weather looks 



BOND AND FREE. 29 

threatening — the wind is muttering menac- 
ingly in the trees ; but the music sounds 
ever louder, faster, wilder, in more intoxi- 
cating strains; and Lischen, locked closer 
and closer in the young Baron's arms, is 
whirled round in swifter and swifter circles. 
His breath on her cheek and bosom be- 
comes hot as fire; his grasp of her hand 
tightens till it is like a grasp of iron : as 
he holds her breast to breast, with ' suflfo- 
cating pressure — she has no power to cry 
to him to stop, and on and on they go. 
"The storm breaks — thunder growls, 
lightning flashes ; the wind shrieks in the 
lindens, bows and threatens to break them ; 
hail and rain drive fiercely across the 
Tanz-Platz. It is said that those two mad 
dancers nevertheless danced on and on, 
and that the wild waltz music sounded 
above all the noise of the storm. It is 
said — the legend grows more vague here — 



30 BOND AND FREE. 

that the maiden, long after she had been 
danced to death, was still whirled round 
and round in those cruel, clutching arms. 
***** 
" In the morning the blackened corpses of 
a row of lindens lay across the Tanz- 
Platz; but those of the maiden and her 
partner were not found there. Clarchen 
declared that, after the dance with her, she 
had seen the young Herr Baron mount 
his horse and ride away towards the 
castle; but some doubt was thrown upon 
the truth of her statement. The old 
fiddlers swore that the waltz they played 
for the young Baron and the Clarchen 
was the last they played on that fatal 
night : but wine had then made them 
merry — they could hardly be expected to 
remember anything so exactly. The old 
priest, too, had helped to confuse their 
minds. Everybody agreed that all through 



BOND AND FREE. 31 

the night, in lulls of the storm, they had 
distinctly heard snatches of wild dance- 
music ; and everybody believed, what the 
priest said, that the devil himself had danced 
off with the wicked, vow-breaking Lischen. 
On other points everybody disagreed. 

" The young Herr Baron, after that 
night, was missing for some months ; when 
he returned to Freigriin he listened very 
gravely to the tale that was told him, of 
how the devil had assumed his shape, 
and danced away with the Lischen. 

"Perhaps a penitent, not the Roschen, 
who in years to come now and again 
stole stealthily to the feet of the Virgin, 
and cried to her in despair as abject 
as that of the Eoschen had been, could 
have thrown some light upon the matter. 

"The legend says that the grass would 
never grow again where the feet of the devil 
and his partner had worn or burnt it 



32 BOND AND FREE. 

off; that on stormy nights unearthly waltz- 
music is heard from beneath the blasted 
lindens that remain, and that a nun has 
been seen whirling round in the arms of a 
cavalier. The young people of the village 
chose a fresh Tanz-Platz, and many of 
the maidens, Clarchen among them, took 
the veil. To this day the fate of the 
Lischen, the Teufels-tanzerinn is often im- 
proved' in Freigriin." 

"For the future these waltzes will 
always be telling me your very ' un- 
heimlich ' legend ; which I half fancy they 
told to you while I played them,'' Elea- 
nour said. Her eyes questioned him as 
she spoke ; but he only smiled dubiously : 
she added, " How prosaic our age and 
country are ! We always have to go to 
remote times or to distant lands for any- 
thing fit to be the subject of a romantic 
tale, legend, or ballad." 



BOND AND FREE. 33 

" I think that remark is hardly worthy of 
Miss Narpenth," Wilfred answered. '^ It is 
true that there may not be much poetry 
in the outward life of the present age; 
possibly your father's daily avocations would 
furnish no such matter for song or story 
as did those of a knight or baron of 
old; but it is this very fact that has 
driven us below the surface, into the heart 
of our common humanity ; to bring to 
light such truth and such poetry as are 
truth and poetry for all ages and in all 
countries.^' 

" But if, for instance, you were to de- 
prive the little legend you have just told 
me of all local colouring — were to give 
it (if you will excuse the odious words) 
subjectivity instead of objectivity — to let 
the devil be within instead of without, 
and so on — you were half inclined to 
do this — you might make it a moral 

VOL. II. D 



34 BOND AND FREE. 

little story of a nineteenth century maiden 
no doubt ; but I think all the charm of 
it would vanish in the process." 

"That would depend solely on the 
treatment ; to give such a version of it 
as you suggest would demand far more 
knowledge — and far more experience of the 
inner life and of the working of the heart — 
than to tell the tale as I told it. But, 
this given to a sufficient degree, there is 
no reason why the story ^ subjectively ' 
treated should not be deeply interesting, 
and possessed of charms of its own. I do 
not say that I could make it deeply in- 
teresting, I only say that it might be made 
so." 

"I should be inclined to say that you 
would make it so if anybody could, were 
it not for that of which I have told 
you before — a certain cold ideality about 
all you write concerning women, and a ten- 



BOND AND FREE. 35 

dency to generalize in speaking of them. 
I do not think you could draw a not good 
(I don't mean exactly bad) woman, and 
make her interesting. You think too well 
or too ill of us. But now we are upon 
this subject, I will ask you, don't you 
consider that the common ^subjectiveness' 
of our present literature gives it a weari- 
some sameness ? " 

" * Many books are a weariness to the 
flesh : ' perhaps you are one of those who, 
from want of other occupation, or from 
that intellectual activity which is too often 
coupled with superficiality, read * everything 
new.' I do not think that such people are 
fair judges of what they read." 

/^I plead guilty to the charge: the gra- 
titude I feel to any author who changes 
listless curiosity into interest and admira- 
tion" (and here a brilliant glance pointed 
the compliment) " is in proportion to the 

d2 



36 BOND AND FREE. 

dissatisfaction and disappointment which are 
in general the chief results of my reading." 

'^ I do not know whether the practice of 
indiscriminate reading, to which you con- 
fess, is most unfair to yourself or to the 
books you read. And is there not some 
degree of presumption implied when a per- 
son acts as if believing that his, or her, 
single mind were able to receive and con- 
tain the productions of so many minds of 
so many ages? Only think what jaded in- 
terests, confused intellects, and overburdened 
memories are brought to the perusal of a 
new book ! " 

" You are severe, but I do not justify 
my conduct. I generally read without any 
aun, without any desire to improve myself ; 
merely striving to forget myself, and so to 
pass away hours that would otherwise be 
heavily weary." 

" Perhaps it is because you are in this 



BOND AND FREE. 37 

one of many that, though this is an age of 
books, books have seldom, since very early 
times, had less influence upon the world at 
large : everybody reading everything — one 
thing contradicts another — the last thing 
read obliterates any impression that may 
have been made by the last but one." 

'^ I often say that I will reform — take 
up some branch of study and fag at it ; 
but I should never persevere unless I were 
tyrannized over by a strict master. My 
whole life is so aimless ! Something within 
me for ever cries cui bono? when I think 
of throwing myself into any new pursuit. 
I sometimes hear people say, that the having 
to do things makes life dreadful slavery ; I 
only wish there were any one thing that I 
had to do!'' 

^^ To an outside observer your life seems 
so rich in interests that there is something 
doubly melancholy in the tone of weary 



38 BOND AND FREE. 

discontent which appears, on your showing, 
to run through it." 

Wilfred's manner was grave and reprov- 
ing; but Miss Narpenth bowed to, instead 
of resenting, its reproof. 

" It displeases you that I should not be 
placidly contented, serenely satisfied,'' she 
said with an air of gentle sarcasm ; ^^ but 
what can you know of the emptiness, the 
intense weariness of an idle woman's life ? 
Neither of us can judge the other. Your 
life, Mr. Mason, is my ideal of a free, 
glorious, and happy existence; and yet, if 
I discern aright, you are not happy." 

Her eyes looked full into his; there was 
something of soft wistfulness in them, and 
an earnestness that made them fill with 
tears. 

" Indeed you say truly ; neither of us can 
judge the other," Wilfred answered. '^If 
you saw a little into the realities of my life 



BOND AND FREE. 39 

and position — you could know what thoughts 
and dreads are the companions of my soli- 
tude — it is probable that you would shrink 
from me with sharp recoil, as from possible 
contamination, drawing the skirts of your 
pride close round you." 

Wilfred spoke with bitter feeling ; resent- 
ing the words that had recalled him to him- 
self; paling, as banished thoughts and half- 
stifled dreads thronged upon him with re- 
vived force ; having gained fresh power to sting 
from their strong contrast with the luxurious 
ease and enjoyment in which he had just been 
sunk. 

" Never ! I should never shrink from you," 
Eleanour exclaimed. " Oh, Mr. Mason, I 
ask your pardon ! I see that I have pained 
you. You know I did not mean to do so 
— forgive me. If my friendship is of any 
value to you, believe that it shall always be 
yours — believe this and forgive me." 



40 BOND AND FREE. 

She stretched out her hand as she spoke; 
her face bore witness to the genuineness of 
her distress. 

'^ There is nothing to forgive," Wilfred an- 
swered, as he pressed her fingers. *^ On 
the contrary, I ought to beg of you to 
forgive my impetuosity ; perhaps you have 
done me a service by unwittingly recalling 
what I ought never to have forgotten." 

They both rose and turned from the piano, 
and, as they did so, they met Mrs. Lister's 
eyes. She sat where she had done when 
they left her ; but working now and turned 
towards the entrance of the room in which 
they were. Mr. Narpenth was sleeping sound- 
ly in his chair near the chess-table, and the 
hands of the clock pointed to one. 

'* You should have warned us how late 
it was." 

"You should have sent me away long 
ago," were the remarks Eleanour and Wilfred 



BOND AND FREE. 41 

addressed to Mrs. Lister, as they re-entered 
the drawing-room. 

^' How tired you must be ! I am sin- 
cerely sorry to have kept you up so 
late," Wilfred added, noticing in how white 
a face those strange eyes glittered. 

Mr. Narpenth was roused by the sound 
of voices, and apologized to everybody for 
having fallen asleep. 

"By-the-bye, did you bring home the 
opera tickets. Papa?" — Miss Narpenth asked, 
just as Wilfred was leaving. 

''Yes, my dear; I am glad you reminded 
me of them, for you must ask Mr. Mason 
to escort you and Mrs. Lister — I have an 
important engagement for to-morrow even- 
ing, which I had forgotten." 

" Can you go with us, Mr. Mason, to 
the Opera to-morrow evening ? " 

Eleanour looked with soft entreaty, and 
her eyes gleamed with expectant pleasure. 



42 BOND AND FREE. 

'^ 1 shall be most happy to do so/' he 
answered, and then longed to be able to 
recall the words. 

" I told the housekeeper in the Square 
that three or four rooms would probably 
be wanted for to-morrow night. You must 
sleep at my house, Mr. Mason — it is im- 
possible to get back to Thorndon. I 
should not wonder if we see something of 
the Captain, Eleanour; he said he should 
be in town about this time. Mr. Mason 
had better come here to a five o'clock 
dinner, and cup of coffee directly after- 
wards, to-morrow. You ought to leave 
Thorndon at six." 

" Good nights " having been spoken, Wil- 
fred walked quickly home, and addressed 
himself to sleep : to-morrow would bring 
more pleasure, for which he did not wish 
to spoil his appetite by reflection to-night. 
Already he was but half in tune for it — 



BOND AND FREE. 43 

a little self-questioning, a little considera- 
tion of his present position, and of his 
future prospects, would wholly destroy his 
power of enjoyment. 



44 



CHAPTER II. 

** Like a queen, she leant on her full white arm, 
With that regal, indolent air she had; 
So confident of her charm." 

Wilfred rose next morning with much the 
same determination with which he had 
gone to bed — namely, to put off reflection, 
and enjoy the pleasure the day should 
offer: but a seriously-comic or comically- 
serious difficulty occurred to him — he did 
not possess a dress-coat, and could not go 
to the Opera without one. 

What was to be done? Only one thing 
that V he could see, and this he did — he 



BOND AND FREE. 45 

wrote a little note to Eleanour, telling 
her of his deficiency, and asking if Thorn- 
don House could supply it, or if he must 
give up his proposed pleasure. On his 
way to a neighbouring village to pur- 
chase some gloves, he left the note at 
her house ; when he returned to the cottage, 
he found a parcel, and an answering note 
awaiting him. 

"Not from Eleanour," he commented, as 
he noticed the tremulous handwriting — 
"this is not Miss Narpenth's writing." 

The note was signed "H. Lister," and 
contained only a few lines, to say that Miss 
Narpenth was glad to be able to furnish 
him with a coat which she thought would 
fit him ; and that she proposed to send 
the carriage for him, should the afternoon 
prove wet, as it threatened to do. 

Wilfred looked at the coat with some 
distaste; wondering to whom it belonged 



46 BOND AND FREE. 

— certainly not to Mr. Narpenth, who 
was shorter by a head, and broader by 
very many inches than Wilfred. As he 
looked it occurred to him to wonder who 
"the Captain'' mentioned to Eleanour by 
her father might be ! Then he glanced again 
at the note; this time he was struck not 
only by the extreme tremulousness of 
its characters, but also by a peculiarity in 
them, which suggested an effort on the 
part of the writer to disguise her usual 
hand. Something, he could not have 
explained what, induced him to put that 
note carefully away. 

When Wilfred presented himself at 
Thorndon House both ladies would have 
ignored the coat transaction ; but Wilfred 
himself was far too naive to pass the 
matter by in silence. 

As they took coffee in the drawing- 
room before starting, he expressed his 



BOND AND FREE. 47 

gratification at the goodness of the fit 
in a perfectly unembarrassed way ; and, 
for their amusement, he related the history 
and adventures of the one dress-coat he 
had once possessed ; touching lightly upon 
the circumstance that had led to his 
parting with it. 

Lightly as he alluded to his neediness 
at that time, what he said revealed — to 
at least one of his listeners — much more 
than he intended of that he left unsaid. 

As, just at that moment, he received 
of cup of cofiee from Mrs. Lister's hand, 
he could not avoid observing how pain- 
fully that hand trembled ; he thought it 
would have let the cup fall, and took 
it from her hastily. Miss Narpenth no- 
ticed both his look of kind interest and 
enquiry as he stooped towards Mrs. 
Lister, and the sudden flush that rose to 
that lady's white cheek. 



48 BOND AND FREE. 

Conscious that Eleanour's eyes were on 
her, and conscious of her own confu- 
sion, Mrs. Lister became more and more 
agitated ; presently she rose quickly from 
her seat and left the room, saying some- 
thing incoherent about its being time to 
fetch her shawl. 

"Do you not think that Mrs. Lister 
is very handsome, Mr. Mason ? " 
Eleanour asked. " With diamonds, and 
just a touch of rouge to make such a 
flush as rose to her face just now 
permanent, she would look magnificent in 
that black velvet." 

" Rouge ! " 

"Don't appear so shocked. Don*t you 
know that rouge is very commonly worn 
again now-a-days. You may look at me," 
she added, with a brilliant smile and a 
deepening colour — " I do not use it at 
present ; but I do not pretend to say 



BOND AND FREE. 49 

that I never shall. Now, tell me; don't 
you think Mrs. Lister is very handsome ? " 

" I have never considered the matter. 
It is true, though you choose to look 
incredulous : her face is to me a painfully 
interesting one — it attracts my eyes con- 
stantly, against my will ; sometimes she 
seems to shun observation so nervously that 
I feel ill at ease in her presence." 

^^ She used not to be so nervous as 
she is now — her peculiarities grow upon 
her,'' Miss Narpenth said, meditatively, as 
she rose and approached the light to 
fasten a refractory bracelet. 

It appeared that the bracelet would 
not be fastened. Wilfred offering his 
assistance, the ornament and the satin- 
smooth white arm were consigned to 
his hands. Eleanour stood just under the 
blaze of the chandelier; when Wilfred, 
having achieved his task, raised his head 

VOL. II. E 



50 BOND AND FREE. 

and received his thanks from her eyes 
and her softly-smiling lips, he was literally 
dazzled by the brilliant glow of her 
proud beauty. 

Drawing back a step or two, he said: — 

"If I were a foreigner, I should be at 
liberty to compliment you on your appear- 
ance. A German might exclaim ^ Reizend ! ' 
and ^ Wunderschon ! ' to his heart's content ; 
but English etiquette does not allow such 
candour — does it?'' 

" I call that truly ingenuous ! " Eleanour 
said, laughing and blushing, and withdraw* 
ing a little from the full radiance which 
had fallen so becomingly on the polished 
whiteness of her shoulders, and the rich 
folds of her dress. 

"I wonder for what countrywoman you 
might best pass? " Wilfred continued : "that 
black lace gives you a Spanish air ; but 
your tout-ensemble of colouring curiously com- 



BOND AND FREE. 51 

bines English fairness and Southern sunni- 
ness. May I venture to suggest the making 
of one alteration in your toilette ? " 

" As many as you please. I am not 
obliged to carry out your suggestions, you 
know." This was said with saucy sweet- 
ness. 

"I do not like to see those pomegranate 
flowers burning in hair as warmly-tinted as 
yours is.'' 

^^ I will put anything you like better in 
my hair — but what ? There are plenty of 
white camellias in the conservatory, but 
white does not suit me or my dress. Come 
and let us see what we can find." 

She went towards the conservatory as 
she spoke, and he followed her : he tried 
the effect of one flower after another against 
her hair and cheek, quite gravely; till he 
had cut a handful of beautiful blossoms. 

"I believe your artistic taste was not at 

e2 



52 BOND AND FREE. 

fault," he said at last. " The pomegranates 
must have the privilege of burning away 
where they are, for I can find nothing that 
suits you as well. I do not think I have 
the Southern taste and love for warm colour- 
ing: cool, pure-looking tints always delight 
me most. The pleasure they give seems to 
enter into my heart and brain, while that 
which I derive from ^ gorgeous hues and rain- 
bow dyes ' is merely external and sensuous." 

^* That is because of the tendency of your 
nature to the cold ideality with which I 
lose no opportunity of reproaching you ; and 
which, I should think," she added, softly 
and with a just perceptible shiver, "must 
sometimes cruelly chill those who love you." 

Mrs. Lister's voice, announcing that the 
carriage had been at the door for some 
minutes, recalled the young people to the 
drawing-room. 

Wilfred took Miss Narpenth's cloak from 



• BOND AND FREE. 53 

her maid's hands, and wrapped it round 
her : then, after all, it was found that the 
pomegranate blossoms must be deposed — for 
the cloak, of Indian fabric, was of a deep 
crimson hue that did not harmonize with 
the scarlet of the flowers. From the bou- 
quet Wilfred had cut — and which he had 
fastened together, as she wished to carry it 
in preference to one the gardener had pro- 
vided — Eleanour selected a large cluster of 
white, star-like, waxy blossoms, the intoxi- 
catingly delicious perfume of which seemed 
at variance with their cool and innocent 
aspect ; these the maid fastened among the 
carefully careless arrangement of her mis- 
tress's tresses ; and then, at last, Eleanour 
was ready to be handed to the carriage 
— into which Wilfred had already put 
Mrs. Lister. 

*^You look puzzled, Mr. Mason," Miss 
Narpenth said, by-and-by. 



54 BOND AND FREE. ' 

"I was wondering how you can travel 
by rail like this," glancing at her dress. 
"And wondering how we can get to 
town in time if we go all the distance 
in the carriage." 

" Papa engaged a railway-carriage this 
morning. We always have one to ourselves 
when we go in for the evening ; to go 
the whole distance by road in our own 
vehicle would be so very tedious — we 
need have started I don't know when." 

" Miss Narpenth's habits are those of 
a spoiled child and a luxurious Princess," 
Mrs. Lister remarked. 

This remark led Wilfred's thoughts into 
a sober channel, and Eleanour had to 
use some effort to banish the cold gloom 
that gathered over his face. As if both 
conscious of having produced this changed 
mood, and penitent that she had done 
so, Mrs. Lister seconded Miss Narpenth's 



BOND AND FREE. 55 

efforts ; till she, perhaps, thought that they 
had met with a too complete success : 
then she sunk back against the cushions 
and closed her eyes, so that the ani- 
mated conversation which shortened the 
journey — touching on most topics under the 
sun, and hardly interrupted by the changes 
from the carriage to the rail, and then back 
again to a carriage Mr. Narpenth sent to 
meet them — was in fact a t^te-a-iete. 

" Here already ! " Eleanour and Wilfred 
exclaimed at the same time, as their con- 
veyance drew into the line. 

When Wilfred presently had a hand of 
each lady's on his arm, he felt how one 
hand trembled. The timid touch of the 
tremulous hand sent a thrill of strange 
feeling through him ; while the contact of 
the other, resting on him with weight and 
confidence, did not affect him. 

"Are you cold, Mrs. Lister, or afraid 



56 BOND AND FREE. 

of the crush ? " he asked, involuntarily 
pressing the trembling hand closer to his 
side, and bending his face down, trying 
to see hers. 

Her feet seemed almost to fail her for 
an instant ; her other hand grasped his 
arm for support, with a gesture which 
reminded him of their first meeting. He 
saw that her lips moved, but did not catch 
what she said : — 

"I am afraid you are ill, and quite 
unfit for the fatigue of such an expe- 
dition," he continued, unconsciously lower- 
ing his voice, so that Eleanour could not 
hear ; but already Mrs. Lister had re- 
moved one hand, and walked as usual : 
possibly she had only tripped, he thought, 
and had caught at his arm in that manner 
to save herself from falling. 

" Take no notice of me ! That is always 
the truest kindness you can shew me ! '* 



BOND AND FREE. 57 

was the low, imploring answer ; the words 
were spoken with a fervour that left no 
room for doubt as to their sincerity. 

" I will obey you — only if there were 
any way in which I could serve you " 

'^ There is not ; Miss Narpenth is 



They had struggled through the crush 
by this time, and they now entered their 
box. Of the glasses levelled at them, 
many returned again and again to Miss 
Narpenth's face ; of this, sitting full in 
the blaze of light, she was quite con- 
scious and wholly careless. It was easy 
for any one to see that the person she 
cared most to please just now was at 
h^r side : she soon succeeded in winning 
his whole attention to herself again. 

As the scene, the music, Eleanour's beauty 
and soft graciousness, even the subtle fra- 
grance of the flowers in her hair, com- 



58 BOND AND FREE. 

bined to excite Wilfred, he completely gave 
himself up to present enjoyment. His com- 
panion thought him brilliantly, bewilderingly 
fascinating, and she did not disguise her 
pleasure in his society, her admiration of 
his conversation, or her warmly friendly 
feelings towards him. She, too, was some- 
what carried away by impulses of the 
moment. The Opera was a new one — a 
pretty spectacle, set to pretty music: there 
was nothing absorbing or elevating in it — 
nothing to carry the imagination beyond 
the pleasure of the present. 

By-and-by, Mrs. Lister leant behind 
Wilfred, to say to Eleanour, " Captain Nar- 
penth is in a box immediately opposite, 
and has, for some time, been trying to 
catch your eye; he has just left his seat 
now — I think he is coming here." 

Wilfred did not catch Mrs. Lister's words, 
but he saw Eleanour's colour rise: she had 



BOND AND FREE. 59 

turned to him, as if to make some ex- 
planation, when the door of the box opened, 
and a gentleman entered. His first words 
were of flippant compliment to Mrs. Lister 
— the manner in which they were spoken, 
more than the words themselves, made 
Wilfred's blood tingle — then he turned to 
Eleanour, shook hands with her, enquired 
for the ^^ governor," and looked significantly 
from her to Wilfred. 

Eleanour understood the look ; her manner 
was hurried and uneasy as she intro- 
duced Captain Narpenth to Mr. Wilfred 
Mason. 

Captain Narpenth bowed with a smile 
meant to be fascinating ; Wilfred struck 
him as looking distinguished, and he did 
not recognize his own coat. But after 
he had exchanged a few sentences in an 
undertone with Mrs. Lister, the expression 
of his face changed completely; the glance 



60 BOND AND FREE. 

he bestowed, first upon Wilfred, then upon 
Eleanour, was one of undisguised hostility. 
It passed unnoticed with Wilfred, but 
Eleanour met it with a look of defiant 
haughtiness. 

Captain Narpenth soon left their box, 
bidding Eleanour tell the governor that he 
" should look him up soon : '' but the 
pleasure of Eleanour's evening appeared to 
be spoilt; she was conscious that a critical 
and hostile glass was often turned upon 
her and upon her companion, and that 
each look she bestowed upon Wilfred was 
noticed and interpreted. She grew absent, 
and ill at ease. 

When all was over — when the curtain 
had fallen, and the house was growing 
empty — she let Wilfred wrap her cloak 
round her, and passed her hand within 
his arm: leaning on it, and with her 
softly rounded cheek very close to him. 



BOND AND FREE. 61 

almost touching his shoulder, she said plead- 
ingly, *' Do not let us hurry — we may 
never in all our lives be together here 
again. Let the crowd quite clear off be- 
fore we leave ; let us see how the house 
looks when it is empty." 

They lingered, and philosophized ; and 
there was a touch of melancholy and of 
cynicism in their philosophizing, as if each 
were feeling inwardly, "This cannot last 
— our pleasure cannot last — an evil day for 
us is approaching ! " 

Meanwhile Eleanour's voice was low when 
she spoke — her smile was soft when she 
listened — her eyes, when they met his, had 
a touch of sweet and thoughtful sadness 
in them, which greatly enhanced their 
charm; and it was evident that she loved 
to let her hand rest confidingly on his arm. 

Was Wilfred proof against this subtle 



62 BOND AND FREE. 

flattery of preference? Wilfred, who all his 
life had hungered and thirsted for love, 
sympathy, and happiness. 



63 



CHAPTER III. 

" All the forgiveness I can make you is — 
To love you, which I ivill do, and desire 
Nothing but love again." 

" I am not one of those weak ladies. 
Who (barren of all other worth) are proud 
Of what they cannot truly call their own — 
Their birth and fortune, which are things without them." 

"Mrs. Wickens has been asking me when 
■we intend to leave Thorndon and come 
to town ^for good?''' Mr. Narpenth said 
to Eleanour, as they sat at a very late 
breakfast next morning, amid that swathed- 
up splendour peculiar to London mansions 
when their owners are out of town. 



64 BOND AND FREE. 

" Oh ! not yet, papa ! I like Thorndon so 
much better/' was Eleanour's answer, as 
she glanced round. She was happy this 
morning — her dreams had been pleasant — 
Captain Narpenth had not intruded into 
them. Yesterday she had felt, or fancied, 
a beneficent change in Wilfred's manner 
towards her — a change to something warmer 
and more nearly approaching tenderness than 
that air of half-jesting courtesy and half-sar- 
castic admiration which she had begun to 
feel would cause her many a soul-shiver 
did it last much longer. 

Till Mrs. Lister reminded her to do so, 
Eleanour forgot to deliver Captain Nar- 
penth's message to her father ; it was re- 
ceived with a half-comic groan, and a sotto 
voce comment of — " I suppose he wants 
something, as he talks of ' looking me 
up.'" 

Wilfred presently followed Eleanour to 



BOND AND FREE. 65 

the window and the balcony outside it, 
to which she moved when she left the 
breakfast-table, in order to see how some 
plants — left there since the spring — had 
fared through the dust and heat of the 
summer. While he appeared to be only 
intent on watching the flitting about of 
her jewelled hand, grave thoughts — the 
cares of this world, which were for him 
by no means the cares of riches — occupied 
him. He had resolved to consult Mr. 
Narpenth, whom he regarded as an in- 
telligently practical man, and whom he 
knew to be kindly disposed towards him- 
self, about his present position and his 
future way of life. Believing that he 
only waited for a convenient opportunity 
of doing this, he nevertheless neglected 
to seek an opportunity, and allowed him- 
self to delay indefinitely. Yet now while 
he seemed to be lost, while Eleanour 
VOL. II. }^ 



66 BOND AND FREE. 

imagined that he was lost, in some poetical 
reverie, he was in reality pondering over 
the most prosaic thoughts, schemes, and 
difficulties. 

His attention was arrested by hearing 
Mr. Narpenth, who had also approached the 
window, say, 

" As you are in town why not see a 
physician this morning, Mrs. Lister. I am 
sure you have one of your worst headaches — 
they become more severe, and more fre- 
quent. I think you will be wrong if you 
do not have medical advice. Dr. Myers 
will call if I send him a line — shall I 
do so?'' 

" Thank you, Mr. Narpenth, you are 
very good ; but I know, by experience, that 
physicians can do nothing for me. I begin 
to think I shall have to try a complete 
change. I must leave your house if I 



BOND AND FREE. 67 

become unfit for my position in it, and I 
fear that I am becoming unfit for it." 

Mr. Narpenth said something kindly polite 
in answer to this speech. At that moment 
Wilfred, irresistibly attracted, turned, and 
met Mrs. Lister's eyes, which had been 
fixed upon his half-averted face. Her face 
appeared to him to be full of mingled pain and 
courage ; something in it, in the expression 
he had surprised in her eyes, turning on 
her so quickly, and in the tone of her last 
meek words, went strangely to his heart. 

Mr. Narpenth called his daughter. 

" Eleanour ! Mrs. Lister talks of the 
probability of leaving us. You cannot 
allow her to think of that, can you? Use 
your influence with her, my dear, and per- 
suade her to have advice for these trouble- 
some headaches." 

Miss Narpenth looked straight into Mrs. 
Lister's face, as she answered, 

r2 



68 BOND AND FREE. 

" Mrs. Lister, papa, may have good reasons 
for wishing to leave us. Of course we should 
be sorry to lose her; but we must allow 
her to be the best judge of her own affairs." 

Probably this was quite a random stroke ; 
dictated by the very vaguest of vague 
jealousies, growing in a soil congenial to 
such growths ; but it sent a flush into Mrs. 
Lister's face, and, Wilfred thought, judging 
by a certain shrinking from the looks fixed 
on her, fear and pain into her heart. 

Had Eleanour spoken gently and tenderly 
to Mrs. Lister, Wilfred would have been 
grateful to her for doing so ; now he turned 
from her with coldness, and a momentary 
disgust. Yet what was Mrs. Lister to him ? 
And might not Miss Narpenth have her 
own just reasons for regarding Mrs. Lister 
with suspicion and growing dislike? 

" Have you any shopping to do, Eleanour ? 
Or you, Mason, any business to trans- 



BOND AND FREE. 69 

act? Can yon pass the time pleasantly till 
afternoon, and then return to Thorndon 
when I do?" Mr. Narpenth asked. 

This last question answered in the affirmative, 
Mr. Narpenth left the room and the house ; 
Wilfred — who might naturally have offered 
to walk a little way with him, and might then 
have broached the subject so much on his 
mind — had lost another opportunity of 
putting his resolution into effect. Eleanour 
passed into an adjoining room, and began to 
turn over an accumulation of books and 
periodicals ; seeking for something of which 
she had been talking with Wilfred the night 
before. Instead of joining her, as she had 
expected him to do, he turned to Mrs. 
Lister. She stood by the window, looking 
out : the wasted figure, with its heavy falling 
black drapery, the drooped arms, and tightly- 
locked hands, the erect head and straining 
outward gaze — all seemed to tell such a 



70 BOND AND FREE. 

tale of struggle and suffering that his heart 
was stirred within him. He felt impelled 
to speak to her, to endeavour to suggest 
consolation ; or, at least, to express sympathy, 
and break the spell of pain that held her. 
He approached her ; in spite of that ap- 
pearance of absorbing struggle she felt his 
approach ; her face relaxed something of its 
rigidity. When he spoke to her in words, 
commonplace perhaps, yet made tender by 
gentleness of utterance and sincerity of feel- 
ing, its whole aspect changed ; she turned it 
on him, softened to express a joy that gave 
it an unearthly beauty. Wilfred trembled 
before her — words died upon his lips — he 
grew pale and red by turns beneath the 
long, searching gaze fixed on him. The few 
moments during which they stood thus — face 
to face, eye to eye — were to him moments 
of the profoundest and most incomprehen- 
sible emotion. The light of joy in Mrs. 



BOND AND FREE. 71 

Lister's face soon began to flicker — soon it 
died out wholly ; her mouth quivered, then 
became drawn and distorted, and her brow 
contracted painfully, disfiguringly : she sank 
heavily into a chair behind her, shivered 
convulsively, and covered her face with 
her hands. 

Eleanour, as she pursued her search in 
the next room, was softly singing a gay air 
from last night's opera, and she did not 
hear Wilfred's first frightened call. When 
he called her again, she had just come 
upon the volume she required ; before at- 
tending to his summons, she waited to ex- 
tricate it from many others, and this took 
time. 

Meanwhile, by an heroic effort, Mrs. 
Lister had partially recovered her self- 
control. Eemoving her hands from her 
face, showing it blanched to an ashen 
pallor, she said : — 



72 BOND AND FREE. 

^* Do not notice me — do not call atten- 
tion to me, I beg of you ! " 

She rose as she spoke. Leaning on the 
chair, she added, solemnly : '* God reward 
you for your tender compassion ! May He 
pour down His best blessings upon you 
abundantly ! May He give you peace and 
prosperity, and grant you your heart's 
desire ! Oh, pray for me that He may give 
His consolation to one, alone and childless, 
who might now have been the mother of 
such a son ! " 

Declining his arm, she moved towards 
the door with a feeble but steady gait. 
Wilfred sank into the chair she had just 
left; overpowered by sensations which left 
no room for thought, and amid which was 
dominant an intense and unutterable long- 
ing, after he knew not what, which seemed 
to carry him out of and beyond himself. 

It was only for a very few moments 



BOND AND FREE. 73 

that he was left alone, or he might have 
fainted. Miss Narpenth's approach necessi- 
tating self-command, caused a sudden revul- 
sion of feeling. 

" I have found it at last, Mr. Mason — 
did you call me just now?'^ she said, as 
she came nearer» " Good heavens ! how 
ill you look — as white as marble ! What 
is the matter ? What can I get you ? " 

Wilfred rose hastily, and the blood came 
back to his face beneath her look of tender 
alarm and anxiety. 

'^ You will laugh at my weakness ! " he 
said ; and then he paused to consider ; weigh- 
ing Mrs. Lister's evident wish to escape at- 
tention against the danger he thought there 
might be in leaving her without aid in her 
present state. " I am afraid you will enter- 
tain supreme contempt for me if I confess 
that for a few moments, just before you 
came to me, I felt as I should imagine 



74 BOND AND FREE. 

that people feel when they are about to 
faint." 

Eleanour looked at him gravely. 

"You are not strong, and do not take 
half enough care of yourself; sit down 
again ; I shall get you something." 

Wilfred protested in vain ; Miss Nar- 
penth left the room and returned with 
something in a glass which she insisted 
on his drinking, standing before him with 
an imperious air till he obeyed her. 

"Are you sure that you feel well again?" 
she asked, when she had left him to him- 
self for a short time. " Mrs. Wickens is 
very anxious to administer a dose of her 
own particular cordial ; I tried to protect 
you from it, for it is very nasty ; but if I 
ring she is going to appear with it — shall I 
ring?" 

She put her hand on the bell — Wilfred 
darted across the room with an activity 



BOND AND FREE. 75 

that testified to the genuineness of his 
recovery. Having arrested her hand, it 
somehow happened that the hand was 
held in his for a few moments. 

"I think there is a person in this house 
far more in need of Miss Narpenth's kind 
attention than her humble servant," he said, 
with an effort to speak lightly, as he re- 
linquished her hand. "Your friend, Mrs. 
Lister, is very ill this morning, I fear." 

" Just now she seems rather subject to 
mysterious attacks of indisposition," Eleanour 
answered, coldly. 

" If they are mysterious, they are only 
too genuine." 

" They excite a great deal of sympathy 
in Mr. Mason." 

" I should have imagined that in any 
good-hearted woman they would have ex- 
cited more sympathy and more compas- 
sion than they appear to do in Miss Nar- 



76 BOND AND FREE. 

penth ; but I know very little of women, 
as Miss Narpenth has often told me/' 

Miss Narpenth bit her lips, to keep back 
a passionate answer. She stood gazing into 
the fire ; leaning on the back of a chair, 
tapping the ground impatiently with one 
foot, and looking especially haughty. 

The silence that ensued was broken by a 
footstep across the room, the closing of the 
room-door, soon after of the house-door. 

Eleanour looked round — yes, it was Wil- 
fred who had gone out ! He must be very 
angry to leave her so abruptly, she thought. 
She hastened to the window — he had crossed 
to the opposite side of the street — she saw 
him, and she watched him as long as he 
was in sight ; he did not look up or look 
back. All the haughty sullenness left Miss 
Narpenth's face, and tears shone in her 
eyes. 

Presently she startled the silence of the 



BOND AND FREE. 77 

room, and perhaps of her own heart, by a 
few low words. 

"I love him ! Yes, I mistrust her — fear 
her — almost hate her — but I love him." 

She grew pale when she had spoken ; but 
after a few moments she added : — 

^* Yes ! it is so — I love again — I love him ! 
I am released from the childish vow which 
I was childishly afraid to break. I love 
him ! If he should not return ! — why, I 
would hunt him out and humble myself 
before him ! I love him ! " 

She began to pace the rooms from end 
to end with noiseless footsteps and a musing 
face; often sighing, often smiling, — now, 
mockingly, at the old love — now, tenderly, 
over the new. 

By-and-by, when Wilfred did not come 
back, and she was tired of her own society, 
she rang, and ordered that a carriage should 
be sent for. In going to her own apart- 



78 BOND AND FREE. 

ment to put on her bonnet she passed the 
door of Mrs. Lister's. After hesitating out- 
side it for a few moments, she rapped; re- 
ceiving no answer, she entered softly. 

A heavy narcotic smell pervaded the 
darkened room, and Mrs. Lister's black- 
robed figure lay on the bed motionless. 
Eleanour approached cautiously, lest she 
should be asleep ; but either the opiate 
had not yet taken effect, or it had excited 
instead of soothing the sufferer. 

Mrs. Lister's eyes were wide and bril- 
liant — a red spot burnt on each cheek, 
and her dark abundant hair was scattered 
wildly over the pillow. 

Eleanour paused before she spoke ; she 
wished to be gentle, and even affectionate 
— she really felt some compassion in the 
presence of such evident suffering ; but she 
was also compelled to feel admiration for 
the strange beauty of the face on which she 



BOND AND FEEE. 79 

looked — and, to a jealous nature, admiration 
and repugnance too often come hand in 
hand. 

Mrs. Lister did not at first seem con- 
scious of her presence ; her eyes were 
fixed, and her fingers incessantly busy. 

** I am afraid you are very ill, dear 
Mrs. Lister. May I send for a doctor ? 
Will you see one if I do ? " asked 
Eleanour. 

Sense and recognition seemed to come 
but slowly into the eyes which, at the 
sound of her voice, now turned them- 
selves on Miss Narpenth's face. 

" Beautiful, but not good — passionate, 
but not tender — obstinate, but not firm — 
her heart is cold, while her love is hot ; 
she is a woman, with little of woman- 
liness but her beauty. Not for him — she 
must not win him ; she could tear a 
mother from her son, a son from his 



80 BOND AND FREE. 

mother — could trample on any ties, 
crush any hearts : she is cruel, selfish, 
headstrong ; treacherous and weak ! " 

Having repeated this, as a child in 
feverish sleep will say over the day's 
painfully-learnt task — as a formula which 
she had learned by heart, and which 
she repeated without attaching any sense 
to the words, and with her gaze 
all the while fixed full upon the 
woman beside her bed — Mrs. Lister 
passed one hand over her brow, and 
seemed to recollect herself a little. 

Eleanour, really alarmed, having for a 
moment recoiled, now possessed herself of 
the other burning hand, exclaiming: — 

" Mrs. Lister ! Mrs. Lister ! what can 
I do for you ? Do you hear me, Mrs. 
Lister!" 

The poor lady, half raising herself from 
the bed, keeping her eyes on Eleanour, 



BOND AND FREE. 81 

re-mastered her straying faculties with 
great and evident effort. 

" It is very kind of you to come," 
she said, with a half-frightened look. 
'* Have I been talking strangely? The 
heat last evening and a sleepless night 
made me feel very ill. I have taken an 
overdose of a sedative medicine I am afraid 
— and that has made me feverish. If I can 
sleep quietly for an hour or two, I shall be 
quite well again. Had you been here long?" 

" Only a few moments. Can I not 
get you anything ? " 

" Nothing, thank you — I want nothing 
but rest." 

"I am sorry I disturbed you then ; 
but Mr. Mason is very anxious about 
your health." She watched the effect of 
these words. 

" He is very kind, but there is no 
cause for anxiety." 

VOL. II. G 



82 BOND AND FREE. 

As she spoke, wearily enough, she 
turned her face towards the wall ; so 
Eleanour did not see what impression had 
been made by her words. 

"The house will be perfectly quiet. Mr. 
Mason is out, and I am going out. I 
hope you will sleep, and that I shall find 
you much better on my return. You will 
be sure to ring if you require anything." 

"Oh, yes, thank you.'' She spoke as if 
already feeling drowsy, and Eleanour left 
the room; but before she reached her own 
she heard the key turned in the lock of 
Mrs. Lister's door; the proud blood rushed 
wildly across her face at the sound. 

" Why do I let her remain, now that we 
distrust each other — why does she desire 
to remain ? " — were questions Eleanour asked 
herself. 

The first she could have answered, had 
she chosen: she was somewhat afraid to 



BOND AND FREE. 83 

quarrel with Mrs. Lister, who was acquainted 
with a passage in her early life which she 
would not, for the world, that Wilfred 
should become acquainted with. The second 
question her jealousy answered vaguely, and 
little to her satisfaction. 

Mr. Narpenth, Wilfred, and Eleanour met 
to partake of a late luncheon, before going 
back to Thorndon ; but Mrs. Lister did 
not appear till the carriage was at the door, 
and then her veil was drawn over her face. 

Wilfred, having had time during his soli- 
tary rambles to think over his behaviour to 
Miss Narpenth, was penitent. He considered 
that his conduct to Eleanour had been un- 
grateful in the extreme ; wanting in common 
respect; utterly unworthy of a gentleman. 
He considered, too, that she had shown 
wonderful moderation and self-restraint. He 
could not understand how interest in Mrs. 
Lister, and compassion for her, could have 

G 2 



84 BOND AND FREE. 

led him so far astray : he called himself a 
conceited and presumptuous fool, for having 
imagined that he was authorized to reprove 
a lady over whom he had no right to 
believe that he possessed influence — over 
whom he had no rights at all, but such as 
her indulgent kindness had given him. 

" What may all these packages be, Elea- 
nour ? '^ Mr. Narpenth said, seeing several 
brought from the house to the carriage. 

" As I was in town I thought I would 
buy some drawing materials, in case the 
spirit should move me to make use of them." 
Eleanour answered, with a flushing face that 
contradicted the affected carelessness of her 
manner. 

" Is this the result of your critical en- 
couragement ? " Mr. Narpenth asked, turning 
a pleasant countenance upon Wilfred. 

^^ I shall not venture to believe so," 
Wilfred answered. Yet a hastily-averted 



BOND AND FREE. 85 

glance of Eleanour's might have encouraged 
him to such a belief. 

Mr. Narpenth asked Wilfred to remain at 
Thorndon House to dine, and pass the 
evening. Being anxious to make his peace 
with Eleanour immediately, he did not re- 
quire much persuasion to induce him to 
do so. 

In the course of the evening he found 
an opportunity of begging forgiveness for 
his presumptuous interference. 

^' There is nothing to forgive. All the 
forgiveness I can make you is — to like you 
all the better for having been so open with 
me. There was no presumption," Eleanour 
continued. ^^ Thank you for a merited rebuke; 
an antipathy, which is growing uncontrollably 
and incomprehensibly strong, must serve as 
a reason — though I know that it is no 
excuse — for an apparent want of feeling. 
Say no more about the matter, if you 



86 BOND AND FREE. 

please. I do not like that you should 
ask my forgiveness, when I know that I 
only was in fault." 

She held out her hand, and looked at 
him with softly brilliant eyes. 

" I am silenced, but not convinced," 
Wilfred said, as he bent over the proffered 
hand — more inclined to press it to his lips 
than he had ever been before. 

Thinking over the event of the last two 
days, as he returned to his poor quarters, 
he almost arrived at a very startling con- 
clusion ; but a thought that seemed a pos- 
sible truth in the open air, and under the 
softly mysterious light of the stars, ap- 
peared as a ludicrously-wild phantasy in 
his mean little room — by the dingy flare 
of the candle to which he sat down to 
read the letters of various dates which he 
had received on applying for them at 
the post-office. The letters, however, were 



BOND AND FREE. 87 

some of them long, and he was sleepy ; 
so they were put away, to be perused at 
leisure the next morning. 



88 



CHAPTER IV. 

" Affliction, when I know it, is but this — 
A deep alloy, whereby man tougher is 
To bear the hammer — 
♦ **♦** 

Man is his own star, and that soul that can 
Be honest is the only perfect man." 

Among Wilfred's letters were several from 
Herbert Southern, of variously ancient 
dates ; the latest written was a brief note, 
dated a month ago. Speaking, it said, from 
amidst death and pestilence, to demand if 
the friendship which had for so long given 
no sign had expired — if the (the writer 
supposed) now celebrated author had for- 
gotten the friends of less fortunate days. 



BOND AND FREE. 89 

From Herbert's letters Wilfred gleaned a 
good deal of information about the Southern 
family. That another Miss Southern had 
been married, and that among her maidens 
on the wedding-day — ^^your little favourite 
of old times looked especially lovely — for 
all the world like a lily of the valley." 
That Beech Holmes was standing empty ; 
and Felicia, the only Miss Southern now, 
and her mother, were gone to live abroad 
for the present- — that Felicia's education 
might be completed economically. 

Eegarding Herbert himself Wilfred found 
out a good deal from these letters : he had 
been working hard — his practice had much 
improved — he was engaged to be married, 
the earliest among them told him — he re- 
cognized the young lady's name as that of 
a girl who had been a boyish flame of 
Herbert's. 

A letter of later date contained the in- 



90 BOND AND FREE. 

formation that the engagement had been 
broken off by the lady ; of whom Herbert, 
nevertheless, wrote reverently and tenderly, 
adding — " Of course, all is always for the 
best, though one can't always see it; but, 
in this instance, I can now see how wisely 
things have been ordered — since I last wrote 
circumstances have changed my position." 

Then he alluded to a law-suit — to diffi- 
culties and involvements connected with the 
possession of Beech Holmes — which had 
straitened his mother's circumstances, and 
which made it necessary for him to devote 
himself entirely to her interests. 

Having read Herbert Southern's letters, 
first at random, and then according to 
their dates, Wilfred mused over them. 

" A brave, faithful, noble fellow ! — I am 
not worth his troubling himself about; but 
I will write to him to-day. ' From amidst 
death and pestilence ' — I trust he won't be 



BOND AND FREE. 91 

reckless. For his mother's sake he will not, 
and for Felicia's — * especially lovely, for all 
the world like a lily of the valley ' — so I 
can fancy her — in her pure sweetness, her 
delicate bloom, her untroubled serenity." 

Then, after looking over the last letter 
but one again — 

"A faithful fellow, indeed!" Wilfred 
exclaimed ; " the suffering he has gone 
through must have been fiery, and he 
comes out of the furnace unscathed : un- 
touched with cynicism ; with no good feeling 
weakened ; with no high courage quenched, 
and with his faith in God, in man, even 
in woman, unshaken ! What aaa I com- 
pared with such a man ? ^ Unstable as 
water, thou shalt not excel,' is the motto 
I ought to take for mine ; while there is no 
motto too noble to be honoured by his use, 
and none, that I know, so free from boast- 
ful self-assertion that he would assume it.'* 



92 BOND AND FREE. 

Wilfred's heart glowed with remorseful 
affection as he thought of his friend ; but it 
did not occur to him to fear that it might 
akeady be too late to give that sign for 
which Herbert had evidently longed with 
a deep and strong longing. 

The next letter that he opened changed 
the current of his thoughts — it was from 
his late guardian s housekeeper ; she had 
before addressed him at long intervals. 
Her master's health was breaking, Mrs. 
Smith feared, and she could not get him 
to have advice, or to make use of any of 
her own simple medicines : he made no 
secret of the fact that he believed himself 
to be liable to attacks of a dangerous 
disease which would probably prove fatal ; 
but he grew angry if she begged him to 
see a doctor, and she dared do nothing on 
her own authority. 

As Wilfred read her badly-scrawled lines 



BOND AND FREE. 93 

a gulph seemed to open at his feet. Just 
as he was beginning to take life easily, 
ceasing to fret at the mystery behind him, 
or the probable misery before, he was 
threatened with the once-so-eagerly desired 
knowledge, nearly threatened : this seemed 
cruel. 

"But when this knowledge comes to me, 
it will come through Felicia's hands. That 
is a good omen. Is it possible that it may 
be knowledge pointing to a prospect, and 
leading to a chance of happiness? Or will 
it be knowledge that ought, ever afterwards, 
to keep me from seeking the society of the 
good and pure ? '^ 

After a pause, he added : — 

"To fear the worst is morbid. .Surely 
I have passed the stage of existence when 
there is a certain amount of luxury in self- 
torment. Have I not the power of making 
friends who value me for myself alone? 



94 BOND AND FREE. 

Have the Narpenths ever troubled them- 
selves about my birth or parentage? Per- 
haps, after all my self-tormenting, the day 
is gone by when people cared much for 
these things, and the time come when a 
man is judged only by what he himself is ; 
and yet, and yet, into what a gulph of 
inherited disgrace and misery may not this 
threatening knowledge plunge me ? And 
even if it can be kept from the world, will 
not the burden of inherited shame press 
heavily upon my consciousness ? — Will not 
the fear of discovery pursue me ? " 

His other letters, which he now opened to 
escape from his own thoughts, were from the 
editor of one of those publications any connec- 
tion with which he had mentally forsworn; 
they solicited his contribution to its pages of 
some " story of thrilling interest and startling 
incident" — offering him handsome remunera- 
tion, and promising inviolable secrecy. 



BOND AND FREE. 95 

He discoursed with the tempter. Small 
as his expenses had been since he had 
lived at Thorndon, his purse was nearly- 
empty now, and his expenses were likely 
to increase; he could not remain at Thorn- 
don much longer, not after the Narpenths 
left it — it would be intolerably dull; and 
Mr. Narpenth complained of the time con- 
sumed in travelling to and fro, now that 
the shortest days were at hand. Unless 
he gave up all intercourse with the Nar- 
penths, he knew that he could not, on 
his return to town, live as frugally as he 
had done at Thorndon. Almost before he 
knew what he did he had scribbled a 
line to the importunate editor, promising 
him the required weekly instalments of **the 
kind of thing" he desired. 

*'It shall be the last time!" he assured 
himself. 

Wilfred believed that he was now ready 



96 BOND AND FREE. 

to embrace any routine employment that 
could bring as its reward ease, and that 
quiet, of either rest or stagnation, which 
he now desired — wealth, and such means 
as wealth offers for the gratification of the 
more luxurious claims of soul and body. He 
believed that he had done with those un- 
reasonable cravings after more than human 
bliss — after ideal happiness — which had ren- 
dered his early life restless, and impossible 
to satisfy; and that he was prepared to 
let the real things of this world engross 
him. Wealth presented itself in an attrac- 
tive guise in Mr. Narpenth's establishment; 
and he was tired of a poverty in which 
the aesthetic part of his nature found no 
nourishment. 

Believing — and Eleanour's admiration of 
the series of short poems which he had 
been at work upon did not shake this 
belief — that his inspiration, which had, he 



BOND AND FREE. 97 

thought, been the inspiration of youth, of 
other men*s thoughts, and of misery, had 
left him, and that he was, therefore, unfit 
for the nobler work of his profession, he 
was not yet lost enough to self-respect — 
and to respect for that profession — deliber- 
ately to propose to himself to live upon 
the dregs of his powers, directed towards 
ignoble ends. It was necessity, he said, 
that led him to sin this one time more — to 
sin, not against the strictest morality, or 
even against ethical taste — for, with all his 
weaknesses and errors, he was pure of heart 
and free from guile to an unusual degree — 
but against his own light and knowledge, 
against his exalted idea of what an author 
should be — a master, not a slave : subject 
to nothing external to his own God-given 
gifts; and, while subjecting sense to these, 
entirely subjecting them to will. Using 
them with clean hands — in innocency of heart, 
VOL. II. H 



98 BOND AND FREE. 

and, according to his own perceptions of 
truth and beauty — for the glory of their 
Giver; working without thought or care 
for the praise or blame of the multitude, 
although this praise or blame, poured upon 
work achieved, might have power to sweeten 
or to embitter life. 

To hold this theory, and then to find 
himself writing at so much a page for G.'s 
Miscellany — striving to suit both his stuff 
and the fashion of it to the taste of his 
public, racking his brains for sufficiently 
startling incidents and highly-wrought situa- 
tions — this was humiliating enough : he was 
surely quite right in feeling that it was so ; 
in thinking that honest labour of any kind 
— even in the fields, or on the roads — would 
be less really humiliating. 

When, by the distasteful work of two or 
three days, material enough had been 
manufactured to supply the readers of G.'s 



BOND AND FREE. 99 

Miscellany with as many weekly portions of 
their favourite food, Wilfred fell to groping 
among old papers. He drew out the unpub- 
lished poem, written so long ago with the 
hope of offering it to Felicia, which he had 
kept by him ever since, and began turning 
over its leaves. 

"How would this strike Miss Narpenth? 
What should I think of it now?'' he won- 
dered; and he half resolved, at some time 
or other, to read parts of it to Eleanour. 
At present he did not feel himself attracted 
towards Thorndon House : many days passed 
without his going there or seeing anything 
of the Narpenths. After that agitating scene 
with Mrs. Lister, he felt reluctant to meet 
her again ; he felt that his presence un- 
nerved her — reminding her, he supposed, of 
the son to whom she had alluded when she 
blessed him so solemnly; a son whom she had, 

perhaps, lost in some peculiarly painful way. 

h2 



100 



CHAPTER V. 

" And ofttimes love that wins not love's return 
Doth but wax stronger, and more fiercely bum." 

This time Eleanour did not seek Wil- 
fred ; a fortnight — passed without even a 
brief and accidental meeting — appeared a 
very blank fortnight to Wilfred when he 
looked back upon it. Gloom and discon- 
tent gathered about him. He fancied that 
it was a foreboding sense of something 
impending that was heavy upon him. His 
mind dwelt much upon the secret of 
his life. For change of thought, and for 
relief from his own society, he was at 



BOND AND FREE. 101 

last driven once more to Thorndon 
House. He took with him part of the 
MS. that he desired to read to Eleanour. 

On enquiring for Miss Narpenth, he was 
conducted at once to her painting-room — 
as, no doubt, she had given orders that 
he should be if he should call. 

As he entered, the light fell so full on 
his own eyes that the rapid change of ex- 
pression in Eleanour's face was lost upon 
him. A bright-haired little child standing 
before Miss Narpenth had evidently been 
serving as a model ; both the room — pic- 
turesquely littered with artistic proper- 
ties — and the artist herself, in a simple 
dress of a warm yet sober colour, looked 
charmingly business-like. 

" At last ! " was Eleanour's exclamation, 
as she gave Wilfred her hand. 

'^ I shall hardly be welcome this morn- 
ing — I fear I shall disturb you." 



102 BOND AND FREE. 



" You are always welcome — but you are 
particularly so this morning. I have been 
wanting advice or criticism — for want of 
them I was getting tired of my work." 

" Have you not been doing too much — 
beginning too desperately? You do not 
look so well as when I saw you last." 

" I never can do things by halves — can 
you?" 

"I am afraid that I can, only too 
easily," Wilfred answered ; he stood by her 
side, studying her picture while he spoke. 
" I do not think I am particularly thorough 
in anything," he went on. "I know that 
I am wanting in decision of character, 
and in firmness in every way. It is most 
difficult to me always to do what people 
call * making up one's mind ; ' and if 
I do by any chance make mine up the 
slightest thing unmakes it again. Do not, 
I beg, look upon me as a person whose 



BOND AND FREE. ] 03 

judgment, even in trivial matters, is to be 
relied upon. I am, and I fear always 
shall be, * unstable as water.' " 

^^ I may do as I like about believing 
you, Mr. Mason — I mean about believing 
in the justice of your self-estimate. I 
fancy, however, that the operation of 
making up one's mind is only easy to 
people of narrow minds and of mental short- 
sightedness : to people, who can see only 
one side of a subject at a time, and only 
that when it is near to them." 

" A comfortable doctrine, which we will 
adopt ! " Wilfred said, smiling. 

Miss Narpenth had resumed her brush. 
Wilfred suddenly turned his eyes from their 
attentive study of the picture on the easel, 
to fix them upon the artist's face. 

" I am devoured by curiosity to know 
the exact nature of that vow from which I 
find that you have released yourself. 



104 BOND AND FREE. 

Have you broken it, or have you fulfilled 
some conditions of release ? " 

She quickly averted her head, stooping to 
select another brush ; but he saw how- 
warm a crimson replaced her former pale- 
ness — ^for she was pale this morning, and 
her eyes told of wakeful nights. 

*' I beg of you never to repeat that 
question,'^ she said. 

Her blush was faintly repeated on Wil- 
fred's face — he did not know why — but 
he felt ill at ease, conscious of having 
been guilty of an indiscretion. 

An awkward silence ensued ; while it 
lasted Eleanour's brush was aimlessly busy, 
and the colour had time to fade slowly 
from her cheeks. 

"Has your picture a name?" Wilfred 
asked by-and-by. 

*'A common-place one," Eleanor an- 
swered, without looking up. " * Spring and 



BOND AND FREE. 105 

Autumn ' — I shall be very glad if you will 
find me a better name." 

*^^ Spring' is very lovely, but I think 
you have refined upon your rustic model 
almost too much — the autumn-hedge was 
surely painted outdoors ? " 

"It is painted from an old sketch 
that was made outdoors." 

"What is little 'Spring' looking for?" 
"Acorns among the dead leaves." 
" Unless you spoil it in the working- 
up, the picture will be a perfect one in 
its way, I think." 

"I wish you would help me to patience 
in the vvorking-up by reading to me — I 
have been working here all alone nearly 
all day for so many days now, and I 
am quite tired of myself! May I ask 
what you have been doing all this long 
time? Have you been writing? May I 
know what?" 



106 BOND AND FREE. 

'^I have brought something with me, 
parts of which I can read to you if 
you like — but it is nothing new." 

" I shall not like to have only parts 
read — I must have the whole. Let me 
bring a comfortable chair more into the 
light for you." 

" And your little model ? '^ he asked, as 
he prevented Eleanour from doing this. 
" Surely the child is tired ; she looks as if 
she might fall off to sleep where she stands." 

*^She may go now — I shall work on 
the background for the rest of the morn- 
ing. Mrs. Lister will see her duly petted 
and sent safe home. You may go now, 
Mary; come at the same time to-morrow, 
remember." 

"Me want to see my picter," was the 
somewhat rebellious-sounding answer. 

"Another time, child — go now." 

But Wilfred lifted the little thing in 
his arms and let her look at the picture 



BOND AND FREE. 107 

as long as she pleased; then he carried 
her to the door of the room, where he 
was told that she would find an old 
friend in Mrs. Lister, but he did not himself 
enter it. 

Eleanour watched him leave the room, 
with the child in his arms. 

" How gentle and tender-hearted he is ! " 
she murmured, and tears came to her eyes. 
" If he loved me, I might learn to be gentle 
too, for his sake. Ah, God ! if he loved me ! 
But how can he love me ? I must seem so 
rough and brusque to one who is himself so 
gentle ! He might change all that if he 
loved me! I will try and change that he 
may love me." 

"Wilfred returned. After he had commenced 
reading, the artist's work progressed but very 
slowly. By-and-by, when he paused, he 
found her looking at him, only listening, not 
even making a pretence of painting. The 
light which glanced down on one side the face 



108 BOND AND FREE. 

turned towards him showed him that tears 
sparkled on her lashes. 

^'Remember that my principal object in 
reading this poem to you is to provoke you 
to an edifying, and to me instructive, opposi- 
tion,'' he said, gaily. ^^ I expect that you 
will defend your different views keenly and 
T)rilliantly ; that you will give me more 
insight into my subject by doing so." 

" You will be disappointed," she answered, 
and her eyes drooped before his ; but pre- 
sently she raised them and said with 
some heat, "Why should you take it for 
granted that I shall not agree with you? 
Why should you wish to provoke me to 
express opinions different from yours ? " 

" Is not this poem an elaboration of such 
sentiments as you say I always treat coldly, 
too generally and too ideally? I, who, you 
tell me, know so little of women, must 
surely lay bare my ignorance when I presume 
to write so much about a woman's heart." 



BOND AND FREE. 109 

^^I do not believe that your Lila is an 
ideal character. You have known a woman 
whom you believed you were describing 
when you described Lila. I do not feel as 
if you had written this poem — it saddens 
me to think you did — I do not know why, 
except that it makes you seem strange to 
me. I feel an awe of one who has ex- 
pressed a faith so much fuller and firmer 
than I have ever dreamt of — of one who 
regards life as so solemn, and art as so 
holy, a responsibility. You have laid a 
weight upon my spirit. You have not written 
this lately? When did you write it? What 
had happened to you ? Had you been 
very ill, near death ? — or had you expe- 
rienced some great sorrow ? '' 

Wilfred did not heed the growing but 
suppressed passion of her manner. He 
answered, half-jestingly, and yet at heart 
quite reverently: — 



110 BOND AND FREE. 

" My guardian-angel had been with me 
— her influence lingered about me/' 

"I was right then — your Lila is a real 
woman? You call her your guardian - angel ? 
You have no sister, and your mother died 
when you were very young — who then is 
your guardian-angel ? " 

She did not trust herself to look at 
him as she asked this. 

^'My Lila is not the portrait of a real 
woman. I knew a child once who may 
have grown into such a woman. You must 
use the past tense, and not the present, 
when you speak of my guardian-angel," 
Wilfred said mournfully. 

^^She is dead, then?" 

Real triumph and affected sympathy strug- 
gled in her voice and manner. At this 
moment, before he had answered, they were 
both startled. Mrs. Lister came between 
them. The door was hidden by the easel, 



BOND AND FREE. Ill 

and she had entered noiselessly, bringing 
Miss Narpenth a note. 

"It might have waited,'^ was Eleanour's 
comment as she took it. 

"No, for an answer is required." 
These two brief and simple sentences 
were spoken in a way that grated harshly 
on Wilfred's ear. In the faces of both the 
speakers there was something from which 
he averted his eyes. While Eleanour opened 
and read her note, he glanced down the 
columns of an old newspaper which hap- 
pened to lie near him with some of Miss 
Narpenth's paints and brushes upon it. 
The record of births, deaths, and marriages 
caught his eye — though blotched with paint 
it- was legible ; presently he uttered an ex- 
clamation of pain — stooped over the paper, 
as if to ascertain that his eyes had not 
deceived him, then sank back into his 
chair, covering his face with his hands. 



112 BOND AND FREE. 

Mrs. Lister was just leaving the room — his 
exclamation drew her back to his side. 
To Eleanour's amazement she laid her hand 
upon his shoulder and bent a face blanched 
to corpse-like pallor down to his, to read 
what he had read. Her touch, her breath 
upon his cheek, roused Wilfred; he lifted 
his eyes to hers and drank in their in- 
tensity of expression ; then, suddenly, she 
started away from him — it seemed as if she 
fled before the wonder depicted in his face. 
She murmured a few faltering words, and 
left the room ; not before he had grate- 
fully pressed her hand. 

" It cannot be ! " Wilfred cried. Once 
more he read the words that had shocked 
him — this time he noted the date — " A week 
after he wrote that letter — a fortnight before 
I sent him that assurance of remembrance 
and friendship for which he longed — while I 
wrote he was already dead ! '' 



BOND AND FREE. 113 

He had almost forgotten Miss Narpenth's 
presence — she had stood apart, and watched 
Mrs. Lister with glowing eyes. She ap- 
proached him now and asked with quivering 
lips, " Will you not speak to me ? Will you 
not let me share your sorrow? Is any 
one whom you loved dead ? *' 

He pointed to the line recording Her- 
bert Southern's death : he said nothing, but 
prepared to go — ^mechanically rolling up his 
manuscript, and looking vaguely for his 
gloves and hat. There was dull pain at 
his heart, and a weight seemed to press 
upon his brain. 

^^ Do speak to me; do tell me some- 
thing about this friend. It breaks my 
heart to see you look so stricken." 

" I cannot speak of it to-day," he said 
hoarsely, taking some steps towards the door. 

" At least promise that you will come to- 
morrow. I shall be miserable, thinking of 

VOL. II. I 



114 BOND AND FREE. 

you as suflfering and alone; and I cannot 
— I may not — go to you, you know. At 
least promise me that you will come here, 
to me, to-morrow.^' 

She had followed him to the door, keeping 
her hand upon his arm and her eyes upon 
his face. 

"I must think. I can promise nothing 
now," was all his answer. 

Her hand fell from his arm unheeded — 
he was gone ! 

If he could have seen her face as she 
turned from the closed door! 

" Gentle, tender for every one else — only 
stern, and cold, and hard for me ! Tender 
and gentle to a beggar- child — to a poor 
companion ! Only stern for me ! And I — 
I love him ! " 

She locked the door, and, throwing her- 
self upon a couch, let her passion — as 
much of anger as of love or grief — ^have 



BOND AND FREE. 115 

way. When at last she rose — with wild, 
disordered hair, swollen eye-lids and inflamed 
cheeks — she was not beautiful to look upon. 

The next day passed somehow, but Wil- 
fred did not come ; nor did he come on the 
next, nor on the next to that. 

After having waited three days. Miss 
Narpenth walked to the Cottage, and as- 
certained, what Mrs. Lister could already 
have told her — for she found that she had 
been there before her — that Wilfred had left 
it on the same day on which she had seen 
him last. But her visit was not quite without 
result, for it reminded Mrs. Greenman of a 
note for Mr. Narpenth which she had been 
bidden to deliver. This note, apologizing 
for its writer^s hasty departure, expressed 
a hope that he and Mr. and Miss Nar- 
penth might soon meet in town. On this 
expression of hope Eleanour was obliged 
to live, or to starve, for the present. 

i2 



116 



CHAPTER YI. 

" My bark of life rides will-less up and down, 
Needing no storm to wreck it on the shore ; 
A sudden swell or quicker breathed out sigh 
Of wave or wind of passion — all is o'er." 

" Ich seh dein schbnes Angesicht 
Ich seh die Schatten der Zukunft nicht." 

WiLFRED^s first feeling on realizing the fact 
that his friend — ^the one friend of his boy- 
hood and youth — was dead, was a desire 
to see some of the friends of that lost 
friend, and to learn more than was told 
him by the words of the newspaper, though 
they — *^ from fever taken while attending 
the sick poor of Manchester" — told much. 
He went to town, and to the Landon's 



BOND AND FREE. 117 

house, that same evening. The house was 
shut up, and the woman in charge of it could 
not give him much definite information. 

There had been a deal of trouble in the 
family, she knew — money-troubles, as well 
as death and sickness. She had heard that 
Mr. Southern's mother, and his youngest 
sister, got home just in time to see him 
before he died — and that since then the 
young lady had had the fever herself. The 
young lady was well again now, the woman 
believed, and she had gone abroad again 
with her mother, as the doctors ordered 
a warmer climate for her; and Mr. and 
Mrs. Landon had gone, too, to see them 
settled; and Mrs. Landon's children were at 
Mrs. John Landon's ; and when Mr. and 
Mrs. Landon would return, she didn't in 
the least know. 

This was all Wilfred could learn. Both his 
grief for his friend and his sympathy with 



118 BOND AND FREE. 

those who mourned him were embittered, 
not only by a remorseful sense of his own 
negligence, but also by a quite unreasonable 
resentment, at finding himself cut off from 
all intercourse with the afflicted family. 

A wet and gloomy December seemed 
doubly gloomy in London ; but he did not 
care to return to Thorndon — he hired such 
a miserable lodging as he could afford, and 
allowed himself to fall into a state of deep 
and listless despondency. One dreary day 
followed upon another, and he made no 
effort to break their dull routine of dreari- 
ness. The coming of Christmas did not 
stir him, nor did the breaking of a new 
year. The whole legion of familiar fiends 
were in possession. 

Approaching Mr. Narpenth's house in one 
of his aimless walks — drawn there by some 
faint attraction which he did not strive to 
resist — he saw that a carriage waited before 



BOND AND FREE. 119 

the door, and concluded that his friends 
were now in town. 

It was night, and he could stand unob- 
served to watch who should get into it. 
As Miss Narpenth came out of the house 
the light of a lamp showed him the pale- 
ness of her face ; he thought that he read 
weary and often disappointed expectancy in 
the glance she threw to the right and left 
as she crossed the pavement — while a similar 
gesture of Mrs. Lister's appeared to him 
to express some haunting fear and dread. 
No doubt he was morbidly fanciful. Believ- 
ing himself to be slighted and overlooked 
by the Southerns, it rather gratified him 
to believe that it was in his power to 
rnake any human being less happy by his 
neglect. By reason of the tenderness of 
his heart, however, he had no sooner con- 
vinced himself that he possessed this power 
than he began to reproach himself for 



120 BOND AND FREE. 

having used it ; proud as she was, Elea- 
nour would willingly have been the object 
of his pity if she had known how that 
pity softened all his feelings towards her. 

"While I grieve for my past negligence 
of a lost friend, I am preparing for myself 
a similarly bitter grief should anything be- 
fall another. Have I so many friends that 
I can afford to sport with them in this 
manner ? " he asked himself 

The next evening he went to Mr. Nar- 
penth's house. He was immediately admitted 
and cordially welcomed. Miss Narpenth's 
toilette and a remark of Mrs. Lister's be- 
trayed the fact that she had an engage- 
ment for that night ; but Mr. Narpenth, 
glad of an excuse to stay at home, had 
evident satisfaction in complying with a sug- 
gestion of his daughter's, and sending word 
that the carriage would not be wanted. 
Wilfred remained till a late hour; and when 



BOND AND FREE. 121 

he took leave he had promised to return 
next morning — to resume the interrupted 
reading of his poem, and to see Miss 
Narpenth's now finished picture. 

To what was all this to lead? Did he 
ask himself? 

No ! he was far too worldly-wise. 

That next morning proved the first of 
many mornings which Wilfred and Eleanour 
spent together. Such writing as Wilfred did 
now was best done at night, and his defi- 
nite day's work seemed to consist in visiting 
Miss Narpenth. 

' He could not but observe that Eleanour 
was changed. She was not, as formerly, 
ready of speech ; she rarely said any- 
thing in praise of what he read ; the 
flattery she bestowed upon him was the 
dangerous flattery of soft silences and of 
soft glances. Her whole nature seemed 
to be softened and subdued. There was 



122 BOND AND FREE. 

sometimes an exquisite timidity in her 
manner towards Wilfred, which was in 
itself the most subtle flattery ; the timidity 
of that self-distrust which is born of intense 
desire to please. It was but rarely that a 
flash of the old impatience betrayed any- 
thing of the passion smouldering within ; 
yet now and then there were such flashes, 
and they ought, and her silence and softness 
ought, to have served as warnings to 
Wilfred — warnings of how dangerously near 
to the lava flood and the heart of fire 
his careless feet were straying. 

On the morning when Wilfred had 
finished the reading of his poem — and 
this was not till they had passed many 
mornings together — he said, breaking a 
silence which had lasted rather long : — 

"Reading this, which was written so 
long ago, has been something like holding 
spiritual communion with a lost friend, 



BOND AND FREE. 123 

who was not valued enough while he was 
possessed. The power that enabled me to 
write this is a thing of the irrevocable 
past. If this poem is ever published it 
ought to be as a posthumous work, for the 
nature that produced it is no longer mine.'' 

Miss Narpenth threw down her brushes 
and palette with a hasty gesture ; her cheek 
flamed, she sank back in her chair, and 
appeared to struggle to maintain her self- 
control. 

Wilfred continued dreamily, speaking as 
much to himself as to her — 

"It is sad to look back upon a past self 
which — though it was saddened by strivings 
after things unattainable — one feels to have 
been truer to the highest possibilities of 
being than is one's present self. If, however, 
what we are and do under the influence 
of a human nature purer, clearer, and 
higher than our own, should be ascribed, 



124 BOND AND TREE. 

not to ourselves, but to the elevating 
influence of that nature — and I think we 
should look at the matter thus — then this 
poem, for which I entertain a love and 
an esteem with which nothing else I have 
done has ever inspired me, is not my work, 
but that of my guardian angel/' 

He looked towards Eleanour with a half 
smile as he said the last words. Her face 
was averted and covered by her hand ; she 
did not turn to meet his smile ; a sound 
very like a sob of suppressed but passionate 
weeping broke the silence that followed. 

Much shocked, he approached her and 
tried to take her other hand. 

" You are weeping, Eleanour ! Have / 
pained you ? Dear friend, tell me, what 
have I done or said to wound you ? " 

Folding her hands that he might not 
touch them, she revealed her glowing 
face and flashing eyes. 



BOND AND FREE. 125 

" I am weary of bearing it ! " she cried. 
" You pain me and wound me every hour, 
and you care for me so little that you do 
not even know it. I am weary of suffering 
in silence. You call me ^dear friend/ and 
yet you speak constantly as if all your 
life were left behind — as if the present 
were nothing to you— as if the future 
could be nothing to you. What is it in 
the past that you regret so much ? Am 
I, is my friendship, quite valueless ? It 
seems so. Why do you not leave me 
then ? Oh, why did you save me from a 
death that would have spared me all this 
cruel suffering ? " 

Her vehemence overwhelmed Wilfred. He 
stood beside her silent and bewildered. 

It was not till she had long finished 
speaking — till a great burst of weeping had 
wearied her to quietness, and she laid her 
cheek down upon the arm of her chair, 



126 BOND AND FREE. 

ceasing even to sob — that he spoke ; spoke 
gently and gravely, as one who reproves a 
wilful child. 

"You must know that you are unjust, 
Eleanour: you must know that I do value 
your friendship — that it is very precious to 
me — the only sweet and pleasant thing in 
my life. If I feel that I have already out- 
lived the prime of my powers, and regret 
that I used them so little and so unwisely 
— if I feel that the best years of my life 
are left behind, and regret that I did not 
value them while they were mine — if I now 
despair of ever knowing such happiness as I 
believed in when I was younger, is this 
not cause enough for sadness? Ought you 
not to pity, instead of blaming me ? " 

"It is not so ! " she cried, with reviving 
passion — "You have not outlived your best 
powers or the possibility of happiness. I 
will not bear that you should say you have ! 



BOND AND FREE. 127 

You are blind, weak, morbid ! When you 
talk in this way, like a lovesick girl, you 
are unmanly and — contemptible." 

Wilfred drew back from her with an air 
of cold displeasure ; taking up his hat and 
gloves he moved towards the door — un- 
used to such scenes — unused to the caprices 
of a wayward, stormy-tempered woman — pos- 
sessing no key to Miss Narpenth's conduct — 
he felt both perplexed and disgusted — hu- 
miliated for himself, and for her. 

Eleanour started up when she saw him 
about to leave her; she clasped her hands 
over his arm, and, gazing at him implor- 
ingly, cried, 

'^Have I insulted you? I did not know 
what I said. Forgive me; do not leave me 
in anger, unless you wish to kill me ! " 

"I am not angry. It was for your sake 
that I was about to leave you. When you 
are calm you will be the first to regret this 
scene." 



128 BOND AND FREE. 

"Oh, no! You are not angry — you are 
too cold even for anger ! " As she spoke, she 
retreated from hira. 

"Surely I had better go," he said, as he 
followed her ; " every word I utter is so un- 
fortunate as to displease you. Dear Elea- 
nour, be calm and reasonable.'^ 

"If you were less calm and reasonable, 
less .icy-cold, I might be more so. You 
torture me with your coldness and your 
melancholy. I have borne the torture very 
long in silence. Now ." 

She could not finish her sentence, but 
began to weep again, in a gentler and 
heart-broken manner now. 

He took her hand, led her to her chair, 
and stood by her, retaining her hand in his. 
When he thought she could hear him, he 
said — 

"I would rather die than give you pain. 
If I torture you, as you say, this had 



BOND AND FREE. 129 

better be our last meeting — though to think 
that it must be so would grieve me inex- 
pressibly. Tell me plainly of my faults to- 
wards you ; and, believe me, I shall be 
anxious to amend them ; for I would sooner 
die than give you pain. Yet that, perhaps, 
you will think, is not saying much. I own 
that is not saying much. Shall I say I 
would rather live without the sweetness of 
your friendship than give you pain ? " 

He was no longer calm — strange emotions 
thronged upon him. As he looked down 
upon the hand lying in his, he thought 
what a kind hand it had been for him — 
what a dreary blank would be made in his 
life if he might never touch that hand again. 
Thinking this, he stooped and pressed his 
lips upon it. There was warmth and passion 
in their touch. Thrilled with sudden joy, 
Eleanour raised her head — she wished to read 
his face : at the same moment they both 

VOL. II. K 



130 BOND AND FREE. 

met Mrs. Lister's gaze : it was dark, glit- 
tering — even vindictive! She did not re- 
treat, but came close up to Eleanour. 

" Your brother, Captain Narpenth, is 
come; he wishes to see you at once. Shall 
he come to you here ? " 

The question sounded something like a 
threat. Wilfred dropped Eleanour's hand, 
and a disagreeable sensation stole over him. 
Eleanour rose; stood a moment irresolute, 
wavering not only mentally, but physically: 
then, meeting Mrs. Lister's look, she uttered 
the one word " serpent!" — and left the room. 

Mrs. Lister lingered ; she moved about the 
apartment as if bent upon restoring order, 
but did very little. Wilfred hardly knew 
whether to go at once or to remain. He 
had no wish to meet Captain Narpenth — 
no wish to appear to avoid him. He felt 
that his position was awkward. 

"Excuse me, Mrs. Lister, but Miss Nar- 



BOND AND FREE. 131 

penth will not like to have those drawings 
disarranged," he said gently, when he saw 
Mrs. Lister about to put away some sketches 
that Eleanour was using. 

Mrs. Lister dropped the drawings. She 
looked mournfully at Wilfred as she said: — 

'^You seem at home here, Mr. Mason, 
and well acquainted with Miss Narpenth's 
wishes." 

He took no notice of this remark, but 
pretended to be intently studying a pic- 
ture hanging on the wall. Mrs. Lister 
came close to him ; she laid one of her 
wasted white hands upon his arm — and 
again some peculiarity of her touch, at 
once so eager and so tremulous, thrilled 
through every nerve. She said in a low, 
hurried voice: — 

'* I am old enough to be your mother ; 
and, as if I were your mother, I have 
your happiness at heart. I cannot forget 

k2 



132 BOND AND FREE. 

that I might now have been the mother 
of such a son. I beg of you to answer 
me as you would answer your mother ; 
but I will go on my knees to ask you — 
and no mother should kneel to her own 
son — do you love Eleanour Narpenth?" 

Wilfred coloured violently ; by a quick, 
firm movement he hindered her from kneel- 
ing. When he spoke it was with cold dig- 
nity, and in a constrained voice : — 

"Mrs Lister will be the first to feel the 
impropriety of such a question — the impos- 
sibility of my answering such a question, 
either negatively or afi&rmatively. She will 
be the first to feel that such a use of 
Miss Narpenth's name is unjustifiable, and 
an offence against that lady." 

"You do not love her! — tell me you do 
not love her ! " The words spoken with the 
accent of entreating love. "You must not 
love her ! You must not let her make you 



BOND AND FREE. 133 

believe that she loves you ! She cannot love 
— she has no heart : she is passionate, but 
she is cold, selfish, obstinate, weak, fickle — 
I would rather see her in her grave than 
see your life wrecked upon her. You must 
not love her! I could tell you what would 
make you despise her as I despise her. I 
know she is beautiful, but do not let her 
beauty entrap you — she is not what she 

seems — she .'^ 

Wilfred made a despairing efibrt to stop 
this torrent of feverish speech; but Mrs. 
Lister paid no heed to his warning gesture. 
He stood facing the door, while she faced 
him — ^he saw Miss Narpenth enter the room 
— saw her pause in the middle of it — saw 
her face grow livid and her eyes dilate. It 
was not till he said — *^ Miss Narpenth is 
here," that Mrs. Lister ceased to speak — 
then she turned, and the two women stood 
face to face. Which looked the more 



134 BOND AND FREE. 

haughtily majestic, the more defiant, it 
would have been difficult to decide. There 
was nothing like shame or confusion in 
Mrs. Lister's mien — it was more that of a 
noble, wild creature brought to bay, than 
of one woman detected in treachery and 
falsehood against another. 

During the silence that ensued the at- 
mosphere oppressed Wilfred — it seemed like 
the sultry, sullen quiet that precedes the 
breaking of a storm. 

Eleanour^s words — " After what has hap- 
pened, Mrs. Lister, you will not, I am sure, 
desire to remain longer in this house," 
seemed to Wilfred — who was ignorant of all 
that would have enabled him to judge justly 
between the two women, and incensed by 
what he thought the uncalled-for virulence of 
Mrs. Lister, and at the awkwardness of the 
position in which she had placed him — 
grandly simple and forbearing. After speak- 



BOND AND FREE. 135 

ing them Eleanour turned to him and 
said : — 

" I came back just for a moment, Mr. 
Mason, to apologize for my abrupt depar- 
ture, and for anything else in my conduct 
that may have offended you. I find that 
Captain Narpenth intends spending some 
days with us. I fear, therefore, that during 
these days my mornings will be engaged; 
but I hope — and I know that my father 
will hope — that you will give us all your 
disengaged evenings." 

She held out her hand, adding — 

" Think kindly of me whatever happens 
— do not be ready to believe anything 
that is said against me — at least give me 
a chance of defending myself." 

Wilfred pressed her hand and looked 
kindly into her beseeching eyes. Then, 
bowing to Mrs. Lister, who made a half 
movement to detain him, he left the room 



136 BOND AND FREE. 

and the house, quite bewildered by the 
various emotions of that morning — won- 
dering what on earth he had done that 
he should be thus played upon by these 
two women. 

He pondered over Eleanour's conduct 
and Mrs. Lister's strange and impassioned 
appeal till his brain seemed to whirl, and 
he tried to banish all these things from 
his thoughts together. The whole scene 
had been like part of an uneasy dream ; 
the more especially as he had played but 
a poor and passive part. 



137 



CHAPTER VII. 

"L' Amour n'a qu'un ennemi serieux, c'est le ridicule. 
Quand 1' Amour survit au ridicule c'est qu'il est sublime." 

Mr. Narpenth and his son and daughter 
met at the dinner-table. Mrs. Lister did 
not appear, but no remark was made 
upon her absence until the servants had 
left the room; then Mr. Narpenth said: — 

"Mrs. Lister has one of her headaches, I 
suppose ? " 

"Not that I am aware of," Eleanour 
replied. 

"Eh? Mrs. Lister! Why doesn't she 
come down ? '' Captain Narpenth asked, 



138 BOND AND FREE. 

peering at his sister with his small, short- 
sighted, and now malicious, eyes. 

" Mrs. Lister, in accordance with my 
wish and her own, has left this house ; I 
do not think that she is likely ever to 
return to it." 

Eleanour looked fixedly at Captain Nar- 
penth as she spoke. 

"What did you say, my dear?" her 
father asked. 

She repeated her words, adding : — 

" When we are alone, papa, I will ex- 
plain all the circumstances to you." 

Captain Narpenth, who had looked blank 
for a few seconds, now smiled meaningly. 

" I think you did foolishly to part so 
hastily with such a handsome and accom- 
plished person as Mrs. Lister ; but pro- 
bably she was too handsome and accom- 
plished," he said. " I can assure you, 
however, that you will not gain anything 



BOND AND FREE. 139 

by this move of yours," he added, in a 
low, menacing tone. 

"I am obliged to you for that assurance: 
also for the high motives to which you 
attribute my conduct." 

" Eleanour, my dear, what is it ? There 
seems to be some misunderstanding between 
you and your brother." 

" I think, papa, that you will find it 
difficult to understand what good purpose 
can have been served by the carrying on of 
a secret correspondence between Mrs. 
Lister and Captain Narpenth, of which 
Mr. Mason has been the subject.'' 

" A correspondence between you and 
Mrs. Lister, Edgar ! " 

*^ Yes, sir, if a simple exchange of notes 
deserves to be so called — a correspondence 
concerning an adventurer, calling himself 
Wilfred Mason, of whose antecedents Mrs. 
Lister knows something which she is not at 



140 BOND AND FREE. 

liberty to reveal, and who, to her dismay, 
has gained a footing in this house. Believ- 
ing that your infatuation for this fellow 
almost equalled Miss Narpenth's, and 
would make any appeal to you futile, did 
Mrs. Lister do anything extraordinary 
in apprising me of the danger threatening 
the honour of our family ? Was it so 
very strange to appeal to a brother to 
come to the aid of his sister ? " 

Eleanour listened with a perceptible 
sneer ; seeing which, he added — 

" If you doubt my brotherly affection, 
Miss Narpenth, you do not perhaps doubt 
my sincerity when I say that I am not pre- 
pared to see a daughter of my mother's 
husband disgrace her family; whatever your 
mother's daughter may be prepared to do." 

There was no need for Eleanour to 
speak : she looked at her father, and 
saw that there was no need. 



BOND AND FREE. 141 

" Unless you desire that I should order 
you from this room and from my house, 
control your tongue, Captain Narpenth. 
Your mother's son, whatever else he is, 
should be too much of a gentleman to 
make any reflections upon a dead wife 
and mother in the presence of her hus- 
band and child." Mr. Narpenth had risen, 
and was pacing the room excitedly ; he 
continued : — '^ I do not know whether most 
to admire or to resent your consummate 
impudence ! You to talk of the honour 
of this family, of any family of which you 
are a member ! And so your last achieve- 
ment is to enter into a clandestine corre- 
spondence with a lady in my employ, the 
object of which is to blacken the cha- 
racter of one of my most intimate and 
valued friends — of a man who saved your 
sister's life at the peril of his own, and 
whose talents and character claim for 



142 BOND AND FREE. 

him the respect of all who know him ! " 
Eleanour's eyes shone upon her father, 
large with gratitude and pleasure — she 
rose, went to him, and passed her arm 
through his. 

" The fellow is an impostor — a nameless 
nobody — the name by which you know 
him, plebeian as it is, is not his own." 
" Make Captain Narpenth prove his 
words, papa. It is very soldier-like and 
noble to deal in such vague calumnies, 
but make him prove his words." 

" Can you prove your words, sir ? Can 
you substantiate your accusations ? Other- 
wise they are cowardly, cruel, and base. 
Can you prove your words ? " 
" No, the deuce take it, I can't." 
The sullen frankness of this answer sent 
some vague alarm into Eleanour's heart. 
This did not appear to be shared by her 
father, or to escape her brother. 



BOND AND FREE. 143 

" Then what excuse can you offer for your 
ungentlemanly language and conduct ? What 
excuse that shall cause me to suffer you to 
remain in this house?" his father demanded. 

" Curse it all ! That girl knows that 
there is truth in what I say. I can see by 
her face that she does. The Lister knew 
all — and the all was too much — about this 
favourite of yours ; and that is why your 
artless child shipped her off." 

" Mrs. Lister left as much at her own 
wish as at mine : moreover, before she 
left, she owned that she felt humiliated at 
having been tempted to try and gain her 
end in an underhand way, by connivance 
with you. You have disgusted your ally 
by the tone of coarse familiarity you as- 
sumed towards her: she voluntarily gave 
me her word that she would keep Cap- 
tain Narpenth in ignorance of her address, 
and make further correspondence impossible. 



144 BOND AND FREE. 

Mrs. Lister is, for some reason, my enemy — 
but she is naturally noble, and I trust her ! " 

Captain Narpenth could not disguise the 
uneasiness this information gave him — ^he 
broke into an insulting laugh. 

"Eleanour has shown us the peculiarity 
of her taste before," he said ; ** but do 
you, sir, mean to say that if this low, 
beggarly, literally nameless scribbler — this 
unscrupulous adventurer — should ask you 
for the hand of your daughter and heiress, 
and for her money (he won't forget the 
latter), you will give them to him?" 

" There has been no question of any 
such matter. You feel yourself very much 
in the wrong, and you are shifting your 
ground. You had better ask your sister's 
pardon for your rudeness, and drop the 
subject." 

" Well ! if there is nothing between them 
there is no harm done — only I have warned 



BOND AND FREE. 145 

you now. I was a fool to lose my temper 
and waste my time : but I confess that to 
hear what I have heard of this 'Mason,' 
and then to hear Eleanour's name coupled 
with his alias, did make my blood boil ! " 

^'I am obliged to you for thinking that 
your old father was getting so soft and 
foolish as to make it advisable that you 
should become your sister's guardian ! It 
is highly probable, however, that I know 
far more of Mr. Wilfred Mason's ^ante- 
cedents ' than you do, son ! I know that 
he was a ward of my old acquaintance Ire- 
ton : I know that he has been on terms of 
intimacy with the Southerns of Beech 
Holmes. I take care to know something 
of those whom I receive as my guests; 
but I am not an advocate for close and 
curious prying into the secrets of a man's 
birth. If I find a man honourable in him- 
self, and worthy of esteem, I " 

VOL. II. L 



146 BOND AND FREE. 

" You would accept him as a son-in-law 
even if you knew — what shall we say? — 
well, that his father was a convict, and his 
mother ." 

" Be silent ! " cried Mr. Narpenth. Elea- 
nour's cheek had blanched, and now burnt. 
"Be silent, or, when your sister has left 
us, I will favour you with a page of family 
history that will lower your crest a little. 
You are talking like an idle coward; no 
man has a right, by his random words, to 
cast the shadow of a shadow upon another's 
good name." 

*' If Mrs. Lister had been younger I 
might have ascribed her conduct to jealousy, 
and might have paid little heed to it; as it 
is, upon my soul I believe there is some 
shameful mystery about the fellow. How- 
ever, Eleanour, I beg your pardon for 
having fancied that what or who he is 
could nearly concern you; in this, at least, 



BOND AND FREE. 147 

I will believe that Mrs. Lister deceived 
herself and misled me. You are past the 
romantic age now, and if you marry you 
will choose wisely. Do you remember that 
foreign fellow, an artist, wasn't he ? — the 
fellow with the splendid beard, about whom 
you were so desperate? — proposed to elope 
with him, didn't you? You know that you 
have never forgiven me for spoiling that 
little game. Now, of course, you are too 
sensible and too ambitious for that kind 
of thing — have no idea of making yourself 
a laughing-stock by marrying a nameless 
scribbler with objectionable connections. 
But remember, Eleanour, that the world 
doesn't believe in Platonic friendship — if 
your sentimental flirtation is not ended by 
a romantic marriage the world is quite 
as likely to believe that Miss Narpenth 
has been jilted, or slighted, as that she 

l2 



148 BOND AND FREE. 

was wise enough to go just so far and 
no further." 

Mr. Narpenth, who had resumed his seat 
and was sipping his wine, deceived by the 
pacific tone of this speech, did not observe 
how studiously insulting it really was; but 
he made Eleanour's retreat a triumph by 
calling after her: — 

" If you have no engagement for to- 
morrow, Eleanour, send a note to Mason 
and ask him to dine here then, to meet 
your brother." 



149 



CHAPTER VIII. 

** By passion blinded and foul envy led, 

Working and walking in beclouded night, f 

He but brings vengeance down on his own head, 
And makes his victim's virtues shine more bright." 

Captain Narpenth had the satisfaction of 
knowing that his interference had brought 
him into deeper disfavour with his father 
and sister, and had rather benefited than 
damaged Mr. Mason's cause — if, indeed, Mr. 
Mason had any cause to be advanced or 
retarded ; this he would have begun to 
doubt after seeing something of Wilfred, 
had he not come to the conclusion that 



150 BOND AND FREE. 

it was his presence which caused the love- 
making to be so cold and cautious. 

As a prodigal son, and the son of a 
mother between whom and her husband 
there had never been any real love — 
though, at the beginning of their married 
life, there had been reasonable affection 
and tolerant kindness^ on Mr. Narpenth's 
side — he had not at any time possessed 
much influence with his father, and what 
he had possessed he had lost now by 
having abused it. The mother, in whose 
aristocratic connections he put his trust, 
and of whom he made his boast, had been 
one of a large and needy family; her mar- 
riage had been a result of their neediness, 
and after it she had not scrupled to mani- 
fest her scorn of her husband's pursuits 
and of his relations ; having made a few 
years of his life miserable, she died while 
still young, leaving but one child. 



BOND AND FREE. 151 

Within a short time Mr. Narpenth 
married Eleanour's mother — a humbly-born 
girl — the love of his youth, from whom 
the machinations of his first wife's relations 
had separated him; and who had since 
become heiress to a large fortune. 

To prove his disinterestedness, he settled 
this upon her and her children. Eleanour, 
the latest born, had alone survived infancy. 
The second wife also died comparatively 
young, and her little daughter, then five 
years old, became her father's idol. 

The prodigal son was an often repent- 
ant, as often forgiven, and as often sinning 
again, prodigal, for whom it was impos- 
sible that his father should retain any 
respect or much afiection; and whose treat- 
ment of his half-sister — towards whom his 
feelings were those of unmixed jealousy 
and dislike — was a constant source of pain 
and annoyance to his father. 



152 BOND AND FREE. 

It is quite true that Eleanour did no- 
thing to propitiate her brother — hers was 
not a conciliatory nature; she had de- 
spised Captain Narpenth ever since she had 
been old enough to appreciate his cha- 
racter; and on one occasion he had, she 
thought, given her cause to hate him. For 
his conduct then she could, perhaps, have 
forgiven him now; but she could not 
forgive his present interference, or his 
reference to that past transaction. 

Wilfred came to dine the next day, and 
several other days while Captain Narpenth 
stayed at his father's house. That gentle- 
man's visit extended over several weeks ; for 
he hoped that his presence was some restraint 
upon Mason and his sister, and he knew that 
it caused the latter great annoyance. He 
also hoped that something might "turn 
up " to Mason's disadvantage ; or that 
something might be heard of "the Lister," 



BOND AND FREE. 153 

whom he considered " too plucky to give 
up her game so easily." 

When the young men met, Captain 
Narpenth's constant endeavour appeared to 
be to discover and to hold up to ridicule 
weaknesses or peculiarities of Mason's ; at 
the same time that he treated him with 
a marked respect, an excessive deference 
and consideration which he wished should 
be taken as ironical. 

Wilfred, however, was on his guard, and 
his cold and polished reserve successfully 
repelled the not very skilful or subtle 
attacks of his enemy. 

If the Captain ventured to enter the 
lists of argument with Wilfred he generally 
lost his temper; while his opponent invari- 
ably maintained the most unruffled courtesy. 
He always exposed the superficiality of 
his knowledge on some subjects, and the 
profoundness of his ignorance on others; 



154 BOND AND FREE. 

while his adversary defeated him without 
effort, without deigning to bring any for- 
midable weapons to bear upon so puny an 
enemy. 

Eleanour's triumph in the success of her 
hero was, on these occasions, as quiet as it 
was deep. A smile for one and a smile for 
the other of the opponents was all she 
used — in the difference of these smiles 
dwelt their sting and their honey. 

By the time he took his leave Captain 
Narpenth had played his cards so ill — had 
covered himself with confusion, and, by 
force of contrast, shown Wilfred in such 
an admirable light — that Eleanour felt quite 
kindly towards him. It is true that he 
had done something — for his observations 
had opened Mr. Narpenth's eyes to a pro- 
bability which had not occurred to him 
before — and which he had seen nothing 
in Wilfred's demeanour to suggest — the 



BOND AND FREE. 155 

probability that "Wilfred might some day 
become a suitor for Eleanour's hand. But 
this probability seemed a dim and distant 
one. His admiration and esteem for Wil- 
fred had lately ripened into positive af- 
fection ; and he never forgot the obligation 
he lay under to a man who had saved his 
child's life : still, it cannot be said that 
he had any pleasure in the contemplation 
of this probability. Nevertheless — implicitly 
relying upon Wilfred's honour and upon 
Eleanour's discretion — he resolved not to 
trouble himself about "the young people's 
affairs," but to let things take their course. 
" Eleanour is no child now ; she was 
thwarted once, and suffered a good deal. 
I shall not feel justified in crossing her 
will again for any light cause," he 
thought. " The connection may not offer 
all the advantages that I could wish ; 
time enough to think of that, however — 



156 BOND AND FREE. 

for I am not at all sure that either 
Mason or Eleanour has any thought of 
love or marriage. It's no use anticipat- 
ing troubles that may never come." 

Mrs. Lister, whatever she had failed to 
do, had succeeded in throwing an apple 
of discord among Wilfred's thoughts and 
feelings. While Captain Narpenth made one 
of the family he did not think it in 
accordance with his dignity to avoid visiting 
the house ; but after the Captain left 
Wilfred's visits became few, far between, 
and comparatively formal. He sometimes 
questioned whether he ought not to leave 
the neighbourhood and altogether break 
off an intercourse which was " the only 
pleasure of his life ; " but Mrs. Lister had 
seemed rather to deny than to assert 
that Eleanour loved him — to accuse 
her of coquetry and heartlessness towards 
him, rather than to intimate that he 



BOND AND FREE. 157 

might be acting unworthily towards her, 
and that he might peril her happiness and 
endanger her peace. 

Wilfred had none of the coxcombry 
and conceit which would have made many 
other men ready to believe that Miss 
Narpenth's heart was likely to be in 
danger from their attractions. She valued 
him — perhaps she over- valued and too 
tenderly valued him — as a friend; but of 
love, he told himself, there was no ques- 
tion between them ; and to a friendship 
which, however dear and near it might 
be, did not tend towards a closer con- 
nection, there could, he strove to be 
convinced, be no objection. 

This friendship had not been of his 
seeking : from the beginning it had been 
forced upon him by circumstances. He 
told himself that there would be in- 
delicacy, presumption and ingratitude in 



158 BOND AND FREE. 

giving up a friend, only from fear that 
she might grow too fond. 

Wilfred blushed as he soliloquized, and 
felt as if the momentary entertainment of 
such a thought were an insult to Miss 
Narpenth. As to his own heart, he did 
not believe that was in the slightest 
danger. It is true that his brain seemed 
to whirl, and the world to stand still for 
him, when he said to himself those simple 
words, " If she loves me ; " but then that 
was only because to think of any woman 
as loving him with *' the love of men 
and women when they love the best " 
was to plunge into a profound depth of 
delicious unreality; in which what he had 
only dreamed of as vaguely possible in the 
far distance was contemplated as present 
and actual. 

The result of his reflections and be- 
wildering speculations was, that he decided 



BOND AND FREE. 159 

not to give up visiting at Mr. Narpenth's; 
but to do so less frequently, and only of 
an evening. 

It was the more easy to him to make 
and to keep this resolution, because the 
excitement and agitation to which he had 
lately been subject having thoroughly roused 
him from his listless gloom of unproduc- 
tiveness, he had begun to write again — not 
for his taskmasters, and in the service of 
Mammon, but for himself — to give ex- 
pression to thoughts and feelings that 
pressed for utterance. Becoming deeply 
interested in his work, and his faith in 
himself to some extent reviving in con- 
sequence, he saw even less of Eleanour 
than he had intended, and thought of 
her less, far less, than he could have 
believed possible. 



160 



CHAPTER IX, 

" But— I love you, Sir, 
And wiien a woman says slie loves a man, 
The man must hear her, though he love her not." 

Eleanour NarpentHj with all her' accom- 
plishments, was a woman with no variety 
of inward resource ; with all her apparent 
independance she had no real self-inde- 
pendence. ' Wilfred only exercised slight 
self-restraint, denying himself frequent and 
intimate intercourse; Eleanour suffered mor- 
tally. The many days when he did not 
come to the house, were blank and dreary 
as days could be \ and when he came his 



BOND AND FREE. 161 

visits — SO short and so formal compared 
with those he used to pay — left her rest- 
less and dissatisfied; some real or fancied 
coldness or neglect always marred her 
pleasure while he was present, and left its 
sting to torment her during the days and 
nights that elapsed ere he came again. 
She was miserable there is no doubt, but 
she made no effort to be otherwise. She 
knew no one who was capable of interest- 
ing her, of satisfying her — heart, intellect, 
and imagination — as Wilfred had done; the 
suspension of all their familiar intercourse 
made a fearful gap in her life. 

With others she was conscious of keep- 
ing back a part of herself which she be- 
lieved to be beyond the range of their 
sympathies — with Wilfred she felt her 
nature all too narrow to comprehend the 
whole of his : with others she was con- 
scious of condescension, of stooping to their 

VOL. II. M 



162 BOND AND FREE. 

level — with Wilfred she felt as if her 
higher life stood tip-toe and with out- 
stretched arms in effort to reach to and 
embrace his. How soon she might have 
wearied of an attitude so foreign to her 
nature, and so constrained, was a question 
that did not occur to her now ! 

When after a time it became necessary 
to Eleanour's peace, and to the maintenance 
of what she called her self-respect, that she 
should believe that she was loved where 
she loved so much, she sought about for 
reasons why Wilfred, though loving her, 
because he loved her should shun her. 
Brought up to esteem wealth highly, having 
practically proved its power, not fancying 
that to anyone it could be a thing simply 
indifferent, she thought she had found such 
a reason as she desired when she con- 
trasted Wilfred's poverty with her own 
wealth. Yes — he was poor and proud, she 



BOND AND FREE. 163 

thought : he loved her, she was rich ; there- 
fore he shunned her — he would try and 
stifle his love. 

Indulged impatience, passion, and grief 
did their work on Eleanour. When the 
winter had at last passed, and spring was 
come, she was looking so ill that her 
father urged an early visit to Thorndon — 
to try if country air would restore her 
roses ; but this remedy was little to her 
taste. 

Wilfred had not been to the house for 
nearly a month when he came in late one 
evening — " as he happened to be passing." 
He was pre-occupied, and therefore unob- 
servant ; he sat chatting with Mr. Nar- 
penth, and for Eleanour he had hardly a 
look or a word. 

He had lived poorly and had worked 
hard ; consequently he appeared thin and 
haggard. This was not lost upon Miss Nar- 

M 2 



164 BOND AND FREE. 

penth as she sat by, almost unnoticed; 
lashing herself into the resolve to do some- 
thing, however desperate, that should end 
her suffering, and, as she thought, his also. 

Implicitly believing all that Wilfred had 
ever told her, she implied from what had 
passed between them that she had no 
rival in his heart. She imagined that he 
had, perhaps, suffered some love-sorrow — that 
some girl he had loved was lost to him by 
death or marriage — and that it was this 
girl whom he regretted in the past, and 
of whom he spoke as his guardian-angel. 
With the selfishness of her passion there 
mingled an unselfish desire to comfort him 
she loved for past sorrow and loss — to 
make him happy — she could hardly have 
been a woman had she been wholly selfish 
while she loved. 

When Wilfred rose to go Eleanour started 
visibly, but no one heeded it. 



BOND AND FREE. 165 

" Do you remember promising to lend me 
Klingler^s Poems, and to show me which 
of them you thought I should like the 
best ? " she asked, when he stood before her, 
offering his hand. *^No doubt you have 
forgotten — it was the last time you were 
here that you spoke of them, and that is 
so very long ago." 

^^ I am extremely sorry ^ — I had quite for- 
gotten — you shall have the book to-morrow." 

"Will you bring it?" — the question was 
asked in a low, tremulous voice, and with 
downcast eyes. 

" Certainly, if you desire it." 

" I shall not be at home in the evening,*' 
she pursued hurriedly. *^ May I venture to 
ask you to come in the morning — or are you 
too much occupied ? " 

" Not too much occupied to be at leisure 
to do you such a slight service, and myself 
so great a pleasure," Wilfred answered, 



166 BOND AND FREE. 

pressing the hand that lingered in his — he 
was touched by the timidity of her manner. 

"He will not come," she said a hundred 
times before morning. "He will forget — 
he will not come ! " 

She had hardly closed her eyes when 
the much-desired morning broke. Breakfast 
over, her father gone, she sat alone ; waiting 
hour after hour — waiting, waiting. 

When, at last, Wilfred's knock came, and 
she heard his step mounting the stair, a 
cold and deadly sickness stole over her — 
all her resolution left her; all she desired 
then was strength to endure, and to con- 
ceal what she endured. 

The most careless eyes must have 
noted her excessive pallor ; the blank 
whiteness of her face, on which the 
bright light of a fine spring morning 
shone, absolutely startled Wilfred. His 
eyes were not careless eyes, could not 



BOND AND FREE. 167 

be careless for any one who in any way 
loved him — and last night he had been 
struck by something peculiar in the tre- 
mulous urgency of her manner as she made 
her request to him. 

When he had given her the book, and 
they had exchanged a few ordinary sen- 
tences, he said — 

"Does not this mild spring weather try 
you, spent in town? You are paler and 
thinner than you used to be — you look ill, 
Eleanour ? " Then, struck by the tenderness 
of his own tone, he added more carelessly, 
*^You should be in the country. Why are 
you not at Thorndon? It must be very 
pleasant there now." 

Colour rushed to Eleanour's cheeks, and 
tears to her eyes ; her trembling lingers 
fluttered among the leaves of the book 
she held ; bending her head over it, she 
struggled wildly for self-command, desperately 



168 BOND AND FREE. 

desiring to conceal those very feelings she 
had meant to betray. 

He took the book from her and 
began to speak of its contents ; she tried 
to listen, and she presently looked up — 
but it was such a face that she raised 
to his ! 

The words died on his lips; pain and 
pity shone from his eyes with dangerous 
softness. " Dear Eleanour ! you must 
have been ill, and I did not know it ! '* 
he exclaimed in a tone of deepest concern. 

She buried her face in the pillows of 
the couch on which she sat ; the flood- 
gates of her grief were opened by that 
look and tone — she wept with perfect 
abandonment. When she ceased to weep 
she still kept her face concealed : she 
was afraid to raise it lest she should 
find that she was alone — that he had fled 
before her tears. 



BOND AND FREE. 169 

Meanwhile Wilfred, standing by, felt a 
very fool — alike afraid to stay or to go, 
to speak or to remain silent — a fool, and 
a miserable fool ! 

At last Eleanour lifted up her head — 
her face was not disfigured by her 
tears — it looked cleared, lightened, and 
tenderly beautified, as if she had wept her 
heart out and had gained ease. 

** Forgive me — I was so very miserable,'' 
she said humbly. 

He threw himself down upon the couch 
beside her and took one of her pale 
hands in his. 

" You are miserable, Eleanour ! — you 
suffer ! '' he began impetuously, then sud- 
denly grew silent. 

" You had better leave me ; I know 
you are very kind, but you had better 
leave me." 

She leant back among the pillows, speaking 



170 BOND AND FREE. 

with weary sadness and without lifting her 
eyes. 

*' I will not leave you ! — my inmost 
heart aches for you, Eleanour ! Tell me 
what it is that makes you miserable ! " 

She raised her lids for a moment, and 
the light of her languid eyes shone on 
him ; then she drooped them again. 

*' You had better leave me ! " she re- 
peated. ^^ You had better not question 
me — there is no reason why you should 
share my grief; why you should be bur- 
dened by my suffering." 

'^ There is reason, if we are friends. I 
must know, and I will know why you suffer, 
Eleanour ! You must speak to me — you 
must tell me the whole truth." 

He had given himself up now; he let the 
impulse of the moment rule him. 

" If you value your peace, leave me — 
you do not love me — leave me ! " 



BOND AND FREE. 171 

He seized her other hand ; he held 
them both firmly, and gazed into her face — 
her face that was beautiful in its agitation, 
as each heart-beat swept some fresh wave 
of change over it. 

" This will not do — you shall not play 
with me thus," he said. " You have gone 
too far to retreat now. Who says that I 
do not love you ? Eleanour ! — you shall 
speak, you shall speak truth. '^ 

"Do you think it manly to extort con- 
fession thus ? " she said, seeking refuge in 
a show of anger. 

Her eyes, surrounded by their dark 
circles, seemed to burn in her pale face. 
His face was hardly less pale. 

" Manly or not manly, I will have con- 
fession ! I will know the truth ! '' he said 
in desperate earnestness. 

** You will know the truth ? " she de- 
manded threateningly. 



172 BOND AND FREE. 

" I wiir 

He held her hands more firmly yet; 
though she struggled to remove them, that 
with them she might hide her face, 

" Then you shall know it. It is this 
— I love you ! " 

Simplicity and tragic truth gave gran- 
deur to the words, and to her mien as she 
uttered them. 

He suddenly released her hands, as if 
their touch stung him ; she flung herself 
from him, burying her face in ^he pillows 
again as she waited for her sentence. 

A heavy silence followed, during which 
they both heard the first heavy drops of a 
spring shower strike sharply against the 
window panes. A heavy sigh, heaved by 
Wilfred as his heart began to beat again, 
was the first sound that broke that omi- 
nous silence. 

The silence and the sigh were sentence 



BOND AND FKEE. 173 

enough for Eleanour. She felt that she 
had staked her all, and had lost that all. 
Despair lent her both dignity and strength. 
She rose : keeping her face turned from 
Wilfred she said: — 

*^ Do not speak to me ! Your gentlest 
words would goad me to madness. I know 
what I have done, and how you must re- 
gard me. Do not try to see me again- 
pass entirely out of my life. If I can I 
will bear my life — if not, I will die. Do 
not speak to me ! — do not touch me ! Let 
me go while I can, lest I should further hu- 
miliate myself. Let me go, sir, I command !" 

Her voice grew sharp and shrill; she 
snatched away the hand Wilfred had taken, 
and seemed to grope, rather than to see, her 
way from the room. 

" Let her go ! '' Wilfred's good genius 
cried. " Let her go — so best for her and 
for you — let her go ! " 



174 BOND AND FREE. 

He stood as if rooted to the ground, 
looking after her. His heart ached for 
her miserably — she seemed to him noble 
in her love and her despair. His soul 
was weak with pain, tenderness, and com- 
passion: that he did not love so beautiful, 
so passionate a woman, he did not be- 
lieve; she must not leave him for ever, 
believing what was, what must be false; 
she must not through all her life to 
come bear the sting and bitterness of 
love contemned. 

His cry of " Eleanour, Eleanour ! '^ 
seemed to burst from the depths of his 
soul without exercise of his will. 

Hearing it she paused and faltered — he 
sprang to her side, and she sank into his 
arms. 

^^ It is not as you think ! '' he said. 
"Dear noble girl, who could help loving 
you ? You must hear me ! " 



BOND AND FREE. 175 

He led her back to her former seat. 
There was a short silence — she was weary 
and faint, she leant against him, overcome 
by joy. He was not calm enough to speak 
directly. But when she lifted her face to 
his, and he saw the soft ecstasy of love 
that was over it, his conscience smote him, 
and he spoke. 

" Eleanour ! — what have I done ? Why 
do you love me who must accept no 
woman's love? We must part, and we must 
both learn to forget; through all my life 
I will thank you for this brief rapture, 
and I will reverence you in my inmost 
heart. But we must part to-day, and 
forget what has passed between us. You 
do not know whom you love — that I am a 
beggar is nothing to your love; but there 
is more — —' 

" Have you already a wife ? '' 

" No." 



176 BOND AND FREE. 

" Have you promised to marry any other 
woman ? " 

" No." 

** Do you love any other woman ? " 

" Again no." 

" Then you are mine." 

" It cannot be : I may not marry you. 
We must part to-day and for ever — it had 
better be now. This first kiss, of reverent 
and tender gratitude, must be the last I 
ever set upon your lips." 

She let him kiss her — she let her head 
rest on his shoulder. 

" You can tell me nothing that shall 
part us," she said, looking into his face. *^ I 
love you, you just as you are — whatever 
your name may be — whatever your birth 
may be — I love you ! " 

It was the sublime of love or the utmost aban- 
donment of passion which dictated the words 
she said — to Wilfred it seemed to be the first. 



BOND AND FREE. 177 

"Love chooses the noblest for his mar- 
tyrs, Eleanoiir," he answered, inclined to 
kneel at her feet. " The devotion of a 
life could not repay you for this love, 
and the best I can do for you is to leave 
you ! This is cruel, cruel ; but it must 
be so ! I can iell you nothing that should 
part us ! It is ray ignorance that must 
part us. The name you know me by was 
given me in mercy, that I might not be 
branded by bearing my father^s name : 
what that is — what was his crime, I do 
not know." 

"This is nothing to me," she persisted. 
"You saved my life — my whole life is 
yours ; I have no life apart from you. 
Just now, when I thought you did not 
love me, I knew that I should die ! If you 
leave me now, you kill me." 

A cold spirit-breath chilled Wilfred's cheek. 

" If this is so, a higher Judge has 

VOL. II. N 



178 BOND AND FREE. 

judged. If your father gives you to me 
I will give myself to you," he said. 

" I know that my father will not cross 
my will," she answered. 

Even when a soft, warm cheek was pressed 
against his own — when Eleanour was in his 
arms — that same cold spirit-breath now and 
again chilled the cheek against which hers 
pressed, and curdled the blood around the 
heart upon which she rested. Tears, kisses, 
smiles and sighs — abandonment to each 
passing emotion — made the scene wonder- 
fully like that of betrothal; but a sense 
of unreality was over Wilfred. As twilight 
deepened, that twilight seemed eerie; he 
could almost have believed that the clinging 
arms round him were not the arms of a 
mortal maiden, but of some Syren, or some 
hostile Fate. And Eleanour's words, when 
she repeated, " You are mine, I yours, 
for ever ! " sounded weird and mocking. 



BOND AND FREE. 179 

'* For as long as you love me I am 
yours," he said, trying, by a jesting tone, 
to break the dreamy spell. 

^^ For ever then ! " 

" That time will prove ! " 

"Mocker! Do you think that I shall 
repent my choice, or that my love will 
change ? " 

" Search your heart and soul, before we 
meet again," he said — growing suddenly 
grave — " I may bring you pain and shame 
as well as poverty. Is your choice irrevo- 
cable?" 

"Do you think that I could have acted 
as I have done to-day, moved by caprice 
or by a fancy that will pass ? You 
wish to make me angry — you little know 
what agony I suffered before I spoke." 

" Dear love, I will strive never to forget 
that agony suffered for me. But, Elea- 
nour, I am a coward and sore afraid. I 

n2 



180 BOND AND FREE. 

have lived alone always ; to myself, and by 
myself — it is a very solemn thing to link 
another life to such a life as mine. If I 
should not be what you expect — if I 
should not make you happy ? " 

"Then I will be unhappy, if that be 
possible, with you." 

She pressed his hand to her heart and 
then to her lips, saying, as she did so : — 

"How often have I longed to kiss 
this dear hand — this dear, delicate, wo- 
manish hand." 

His nature, perhaps the more feminine 
of the two, shrank somewhat from her 
demonstrativeness, and yet it touched his 
heart and humbled it. 

"I will speak first to my father," she 
said, by-and-by ; " and as he will be 
home soon perhaps my dear lord and 
master should go now." 

"As you will, dearest. I do not 



BOND AND FEEE. 181 

know whether it is more strange or sweet 
to have the right to use fond words," 
he added, dreamily. 

When Wilfred had left her, and Elea- 
nour sat alone in the deepening darkness, 
for a time she remained sunk in a stupor 
of happiness: only for a time — then trou- 
blesome thoughts arose. 

" Good God ! will he not some day de- 
spise me for this ? " she cried, and her 
cheeks flamed as she spoke. ^^But I 
have won him ! I have won him — and 
I am happy ! Have I so surely won 
him, though ? '' she questioned, growing 
chill the while. ^^Did he once say that 
he loved me ? I cannot remember that 
he did. Was he not ever and anon sad 
and silent ? Have I done well ? I know I 
could not have lived without him, but — I 
might have died. I have won him though — 
I have won him — and I will be happy!" 



182 



CHAPTER X. 

"Zwisclien Sinnengliick und Seelenfiieden, 
Bleibt dem Menschen nur die bange Wahl." 

Wilfred walked about the streets till late 
into the night, taking very little heed 
where he went. He had a feeling that 
he was not himself — that a new and un- 
familiar spirit was clothed with his flesh 
and pervaded by his consciousness. That 
he, Wilfred Mason, should have left Mr. 
Narpenth's house engaged to Mr. Nar- 
penth's daughter — he, Wilfred Mason^ who 
believed that he had no right to seek 
the love of any woman — did not seem 
to him possible. 



BOND AND FREE. 183 

Hunger and fatigue at last drove him 
to his lodging. He felt something like 
surprise at finding everything as he had 
left it. There were his books — many 
sheets of manuscript strewed the floor — 
while on the table lay the half-written 
page, and the pen which he had thrown 
down reluctantly when he had remem- 
bered his promise to Eleanour. 

He forgot to take any food — indeed, 
his hunger had left him by this time; 
throwing himself into the chair from which 
he had risen not many hours before — with 
no expectation of the changed prospects 
that would be his before he rested there 
again — he folded his arms upon his unfi- 
nished work, bent his head down upon 
his arms, and strove to calm the fever of 
his blood, to still the tumultuous beating of 
his heart and brain, that he might think. 

By-and-by he fell asleep. He passed 



184 BOND AND FREE. 

the night thus ; in uneasy slumber, visited 
by the wildest of visions. In the morn- 
ing he looked like a spectre-bridegroom. 

After breakfasting, and paying some at- 
tention to his toilette, he proceeded to Mr. 
Narpenth's office ; wishing to have an in- 
terview with him there before seeing 
Eleanour again. 

*^ The man is mad if he does not refuse 
to give his daughter to me," he kept re- 
peating as he walked. 

By the bright light of a sunny morning 
Wilfred felt more than ever incredulous of 
his position, of his being in reality Miss 
Narpenth's accepted lover. Perhaps it was 
this incredulity which^ — more than anything 
else — prevented him from strictly and 
curiously examining his own feelings towards 
Eleanour. 

Believing that he trod the brink of 
a gulph of separation — expecting to fall 



BOND AND FREE. 185 

headlong into an abyss of pain — her pain 
and his — he felt warmly and tenderly 
towards Eleanour. Her love for him struck 
him as wonderful and heroic. Regarding 
it as that true love of which is born self- 
abnegation, it gave her dignity in his eyes ; 
instead of degrading her in them, as it 
must have done had he regarded it as 
lawless passion, seeking its own gratifica- 
tion with an abandonment that cast out 
womanly fear and swept away womanly 
pride — being unto itself a fear and pride. 

Wilfred did not find Mr. Narpenth at 
his office — a message had been received 
there to say that probably he would not be 
there that morning. Convinced that he was 
waiting at home on his account Wilfred, 
against his wish, proceeded to his private 
house. 

" Miss Narpenth is in the drawing-room, 
sir," the servant said with the friendliest of 



186 BOND AND FREE. 

smiles, without waiting for Wilfred to speak. 

*^ I wish to see Mr. Narpenth alone." 

On this he was ushered into the 
library, which opened from the entrance 
hall, and here Mr. Narpenth came to 
him almost immediately. Holding out his 
hand with a kindly, though grave, smile, 
he said : — 

" I have been expecting you — Eleanour 
has spoken to me. So you want my 
daughter — my only daughter. I will not 
deny that I should have been better 
pleased had you spoken to me first." 

" I wish to explain my circumstances. 
I fear that it will seem to you that my 
explanation should have come earlier. I 
feel myself placed in a position both awk- 
ward and humiliating. I trust you will 
believe that if I was guilty of indiscretion 
yesterday the indiscretion was not premedi- 
tated." All this Wilfred said very nervously. 



BOND AND FREE. 187 

*' I am not in the least inclined to 
judge you severely. Eleanour has been 
frank with me — any indiscretion com- 
mitted was hers : she is impulsive — she has 
loved you for some months : her feelings 
carried her away — she betrayed the nature 
of them to you. Was it not so ? " 

" It was like her — it was generous 
and noble — to vindicate me at her own 
cost. It is not my utter want of for- 
tune, or of any prospects for the future, 
that complicates my position so painfully 
—it is that '' 

" Come, come ! " Mr. Narpenth said re- 
assuringly, seeing that Wilfred was greatly 
agitated. '^ I am not going to play the 
tyrant. 1 know there is some slight 
mystery about your name or birth — what 
is it ? I will not prove unworthy of your 
confidence. I do not mean to pretend 
that you are all I could have wished 



188 BOND AND FREE. 

in my son-in-law ; but you have my warm 
esteem — I entertain an almost fatherly affec- 
tion for you — and Eleanour's happiness is at 
stake. You may imagine, therefore, that 
molehills will not appear to me as mountains." 

In few words Wilfred told all he knew, 
and much that he had feared and ima- 
gined, not forgetting to repeat what Mr. 
Ireton had said — "that he had not branded 
him with his father's name." 

" All this being as it is, you will see 
how well I have requited your kindness 
by winning your daughter's heart ! " 

He smiled bitterly as he finished speak- 
ing, for the hardness of his fate came upon 
him with new force. 

Mr. Narpenth's brow had clouded over; 
he was silent for some moments, alternately 
gazing thoughtfully from the window and 
as thoughtfully into the young man's sad 
and proud but honest face. Then he said, 



BOND AND FREE. 189 

" It must be possible to learn more. 
Have I your leave to apply to your former 
guardian — who is no stranger to me — ^for 
information ? " 

" It will be in vain. When he dies I 
shall know all — from a letter left by my 
mother which I must not open in his life- 
time. Any application to him will, I know, 
be vain." 

^* He is not a very old man — we may 
have long to wait, if we wait for his 
death. Surely he would let circumstances 
move him to an explanation." 

^* He is a man of iron, at least I always 
found him so — and I believe he is bound 
by a promise." 

Mr. Narpenth was greatly harassed and 
perplexed. He felt that he might say to 
Wilfred, ^^ See my daughter no more," and 
depend upon being obeyed ; but of Eleanour 
he was afraid — from her he had no reason 



190 BOND AND FREE. 

to hope for implicit obedience. Naturally of 
a sanguine temperament, he resolved to 
temporize, to wait, and to hope for the best. 
" I shall write to the man of iron," he 
said, cheerfully ; '' you and Eleanour can 
wait awhile. Meanwhile I, on my side, 
have explanations and an offer to make. 
I am looked upon as wealthy, but this is 
a mistake ; my son's extravagance has been 
a constant drain upon me. At my death 
I shall leave Eleanour little or nothing. 
Her mother's fortune, which is settled upon 
her, is handsome ; but Eleanour's tastes are 
expensive, and I feel sure that you are 
not a man who will like to be quite de- 
pendent upon a wife's fortune. If my son 
had been working with me all the years 
that he has been wasting my substance my 
position would now be very different. I want 
some one whose interests are mine to work 
with me and for me. Your profession is 



BOND AND FREE. 191 

a precarious one ; I have heard you speak 
as if it did not satisfy you — are you in- 
clined to take a post now vacant in my 
Bank, the filling which will be a prelimi- 
nary to your becoming a partner, after a 
time — and in the event of your marrying 
my daughter ? " 

** Your kindness really overwhelms me," 
Wilfred said, grasping Mr. Narpenth's hand. 
" It is true, I had grown dissatisfied with 
my profession ; or rather with myself for 
having made literature a bread-winning pro- 
fession. Many times I have been on the 
point of asking advice and assistance from 
you. May I take time to reflect on your 
offer? Have you considered my probable 
want of all qualifications for business ? 
Could I really become a banker ?'' 

The question was put with a naive incre- 
dulity that made Mr. Narpenth smile. 

" There is no mysterious initiation re- 



192 BOND AND FREE. 

quired, Mason," he said. "As a boy you 
were clever at figures. You are surprised 
that I know that ? A long time back 
Ireton wrote to me about a youth who 
had been brought up in his house, for 
whom he wished to obtain a situation. I 
have no doubt whatever that you were 
the young man in question. If you had 
come to me then, and I was willing to 
receive you, you might by great good luck 
be now occupying the position which I offer 
you to-day; but Eleanour is romantic, and 
I know that the banker^s clerk would not 
have won her favour, as the poet and 
novelist has done : there would then have 
been no prospect of any closer connection 
between us. Come, Mason, let me see a 
more hopeful face. I am inclined to think 
that the view you have taken of your cir- 
cumstances has been a somewhat morbid 
one — that your imagination has magnified 



BOND AND FREE. 193 

its possible disadvantages. I shall write to 
Ireton by to-night's post ; to whatever de- 
cision his answer shall bring me 1 know 
that you will abide by it. I rely upon your 
honour implicitly.'' 

Again Wilfred gratefully grasped Mr. 
Narpenth's hand. 

" I will not see your daughter again 
till I have your leave to do so," he said. 

*^ I promised Eleanour that she should 
see you to-day ; after to-day, do not come 
here till I have had another talk with you. 
When I have had Ireton's answer I will 
ask you to come to me at the Bank." 

Wilfred rose ; he would willingly have 
left the house without meeting Eleanour — 
there was such a tumult of contending 
feelings within his breast. Bitter, burning 
pride would have driven him forth, deter- 
mined never to enter that house again, had 
it not been kept in check by the belief 

VOL. II. 



194 BOND AND FREE. 

that, having imperilled the peace of a 
woman who loved him, he had forfeited 
liberty and independence, and become sub- 
ject to her. 

" Decline his offers — maintain your free- 
dom. Let this hour be your last hour in 
this house — otherwise it will surely become 
for you a house of bondage; fetters of ease 
and sloth will hang heavy on your soul, 
and the twining arms of luxury and flattery 
will fold you closer and closer ! " 

So cried one voice. 

"But she loves you ! — she loves you — and 
you have given her your word!" urged a 
subtler conscience. 

" You will find Eleanour in the drawing- 
room," her father said; "I must go now. 
You will think over my offer, and let me know 
your decision when we next meet. I will 
see you as soon as I hear from Ireton." 

Wilfred went up to the drawing-room. 



BOND AND FREE. 195 

Yes! Eleanour was there, and she rose and 
came to meet him. Her face was pale, 
her eyes were timid and questioning and 
looked as if she had wept much ; her 
manner was chastened, suhdued to a ten- 
der meekness — she looked beautiful and 
queenly, with a gracious, lovable queen- 
liness. 

They met silently. Wilfred took both her 
hands and looked into her face ; her eyes 
fell, for they were heavy with tears : her 
attitude was drooping and dejected — that 
of a penitent. 

"This," Wilfred thought, "is the sharply 
brilliant and keenly satirical Miss Nar- 
penth ! — and love for me, and the sorrow 
of that love, have changed her so ! " 

The ice of pride, pain, rebellion, and re- 
serve melted suddenly from Wilfred^s heart. 
He drew Eleanour into his arms, kissed 
her fervently again and again ; she grew 

02 



196 BOND AND FREE. 

radiant beneath the loving light of his eyes, 
and the loving warmth of his words. 

"God reward you for your love, Eleanour 
— I cannot. Remember, I love you, and I 
bless you for loving me : remember this, if 
we never meet again ! " 

He was gone before she could demand 
any explanation. All day long she fretted 
over his words, " If we should never meet 
again" — instead of dwelling on those other, 
those longed-for words, " I love you," which 
had at last been spoken. 

The explanation she desired her father 
gave her. She heard him patiently, but 
dangerous lightenings played from her eyes. 
When he had finished speaking, she said : — 

"I love him, and he loves me; nothing 
shall separate us — nothing you hear, and 
nothing you fail to hear, shall make me 
give him up ! Of this I warn you, father." 

Poor Mr, Narpenth sighed wearily. Sitting 



BOND AND FREE. 197 

alone in his library, late into the night, and 
musing, he sighed heavily. His son^s career 
threatened to ruin him ; he was as a reed 
in the hands of his self-willed daughter. 
What had he done that his children thus 
rose up against him? 



198 



CHAPTER XL 

" So komme, was da kommen mag 
So lang du lebest, ist es Tag." 

Wilfred passed several feverish and uneasy- 
days before a message summoned him to 
wait upon Mr. Narpenth. When it came, 
he armed himself with a cold, inflexible 
demeanour — steeled himself to bear the 
humiliation of rejection and to give no sign. 
When he met Mr. Narpenth, however, pity 
for his evident distress and agitation pene- 
trated his heart and unnerved him. He 
took the seat offered him, and read the 
letter placed before him in silence. 



BOND AND FREE. 199 

This was the letter : — 

"Dear Sir, 

" Both for your sake, and be- 
cause life has long had no value nor ease 
for me, I regret that my death should not 
already have put the young man concerning 
whom you write in possession of a knowledge 
which it seems he can obtain in no other 
way. He knows that he cannot obtain it 
from me — I am bound to silence. My hold 
of life is, however, precarious ; at the worst 
I may last a few years, at the best perhaps 
only a few months. 

" If the marriage, of which you say there 
is question, takes place, the most acceptable 
present an old friend could make the bride 
would be proof of the demise of her father- 
in-law. This I cannot obtain ; indeed, there 
is every reason to fear that Wilfred Mason's 
father still lives. 

"Hoping that circumstances may, before 



200 BOND AND FREE. 

it is too late, put you in possession of the 
desired information, 
" I remain, 

*^ Yours very truly, 

"John Masters Ireton." 

Wilfred drooped his head upon this cruel 
letter without having spoken one word. 

Mr. Narpenth walked up and down his 
small dark den, suffering hardly less than 
did the younger man. 

Several minutes passed before Wilfred 
lifted up his head and rose ; when he did 
do so, he looked old, haggard, and inscru- 
tably proud. 

"You believe that I did not know it — 
not that he lives ! You need not speak, 
sir, I prefer to take my answer from your 
silence. God requite your kindness and 
Eleanour^s love." 

They grasped hands, and so parted. 

As Wilfred passed along the streets many 



BOND AND FREE. 201 

people brushed roughly against one so self- 
absorbed and careless, and he did not heed 
them ; but presently when, at a certain cor- 
ner, he came into contact with an old man, 
whose manner and whose dress were those 
of a broken-down gentleman, and who fixed 
a pair of evil, twinkling eyes on his, the 
thought rose in his heart, "This man, or 
such as this man, may be my father." 

A few moments afterwards, in a low by- 
street which he went through, a hawker was 
bawling out the life-history of some great 
criminal, dwelling on revolting details of his 
crime. This seemed to Wilfred more than 
he could bear; he stopped his ears and 
dashed by quickly, lest he should hear what 
might be the history of his own father — or 
such a history as his. 

He wandered about the city till he be- 
came alarmed at the wildness of his own 
thoughts, and at the feeling that he was 



202 BOND AND FREE. 

momentarily losing more and more of his 
self-control. It seemed to him that he must 
be growing delirious. 

" I must have rest, rest." He repeated that 
one word ^^rest '' again and again. '^ Rest for 
my body and rest for my mind. Yes! I 
want rest — rest — rest ! " 

Reaching his lodging, he threw himself 
on the hard, uneasy couch in his sitting- 
room. He lay there in a half stupor — con- 
scious of being preyed upon by hideous 
fancies, but too little conscious to have 
power to rouse himself and try and banish 
them — till the watery light of an April sun- 
set, reflected from the opposite windows, 
danced fantastically on the dingy walls. 
Watching its play upon the ugly and faded 
paper, he by-and-by fell asleep. It was a 
heavy sleep and lasted some hours. He 
woke from it with a sensation of burning 
thirst, with a painful throbbing in his throat 



BOND AND FEEE. 203 

and head, and also with the feeling that 
some one — some woman — had been sitting 
watching by him — had pressed his lips 
with hers — his hands in hers. 

The room was only lighted by the street- 
lamp just opposite the window; but his 
first movement convinced him that he was 
not alone, for the light fell full upon the 
pale face of some one who crouched beside 
the couch. 

He might have fancied that the white 
face and glittering eyes were illusions of his 
fevered imagination ; but when he stirred, 
this woman moved and drew back from 
him — only a few steps. It was Eleanour 
Narpenth ! 

Wilfred rose, trying, by the pressure of 
his two hands clasped above his head, tq 
still the throbbing of his brain. 

" Do I see Miss Narpenth here ? '^ he 
asked as he let his hands fall again. 



204 BOND AND FREE. 

" Not that — do not call me that and speak 
so coldly ! '^ 

She approached him — she would have 
fallen at his feet, but he prevented her, and 
put her into a chair. 

Standing before her, he said : — 

"I am ready to attend Miss Narpenth 
home." 

" Do not break my heart ! " she cried, 
taking his hand and clasping it passionately 
in hers. ^' Could I help coming to you to- 
night ? I, who will be your wife ? To- 
morrow would, perhaps, have been too late. 
You might have gone I know not where. 
I saw that you were ill — suffering. You 
talked wildly in your sleep — could I help 
staying by you? " 

" Miss Narpenth ! I am ready to attend 
you home." 

" Oh, Wilfred, this is cruel ! cruel ! — and 
it is no use. You have told me that you 



BOND AND FREE. 205 

love me-— I will belong to you — I will be 
your wife. I love you with my whole soul 
— I care nothing for the world ! " 

^'It must be very late I fear, Miss Nar- 
penth — ^let me see you home without fur- 
ther delay." 

"Not till you have promised that you 
will not give me up." 

" I can make no such promise — I will 
certainly make no such promise here ! " He 
spoke with inflexible firmness of purpose. 

" Listen ! Surely if you did love me, you 
could not be so cold. If you can say, 
^ Eleanour, I do not love you — I never loved 
you,' I will go — I will never see you again 
—I will die ! " 

Looking down upon the wild face raised 
to his — feeling the frenzied clasp of her 
slender hands — Wilfred's heart ached within 
him; he was dead to his own pain while 



206 . BOND AND FREE. 

realizing hers — yet he was still stern as 
he said : — 

" I am about to leave this house, Eleanour. 
I am going to your father. Will you ac- 
company me ? — or must he find you here ? " 

She released his hand and rose. 

" Do what you will with me. I see you 
do not love me — no man could be so coldly 
cruel to a woman whom he loved I" 

He picked up her cloak and wrapped it 
round her ; as he did so she suddenly threw 
her arms round his neck, drew his head 
down towards her, and kissed him vehe- 
mently. Then she tied her own bonnet ; 
he pulled her veil over her face — made her 
take his arm, and they passed noiselessly 
down the stairs and into the street. 

After they left that room neither of 
them spoke till they reached her father's 
door ; then, when she joined her hands 



BOND AND FREE. 207 

over his arm with convulsive force, he 
said — 

" I do not leave you yet." 

It was very late — fortunately the ser- 
vants had all gone to bed. Mr. Narpenth 
alone was up, sitting in his library : he 
believed Eleanour to be safe in her room 
— he had not seen her that evening ; 
she had received his tidings with a 
calmness that had perplexed and frigh- 
tened him ; but of such a step as she 
had taken he had not thought her capable. 
Yet — as he heard Wilfred's soft knock 
and went to the door — a vague alarm, of 
which Eleanour was the object, possessed 
him. He changed colour when he saw 
who stood outside. Not losing his self- 
command, he made a sign of silence, 
closed the hall- door quietly, and led the 
way into his room : shut in there, he 
looked sternly at Eleanour and said — 



208 BOND AND FREE. 

" This means that " 

" I warned you, father — I have been to 
Wilfred. I never meant to come back ; 
but he has brought me back.'' 

Mr. Narpenth took his daughter's pas- 
sive hand and led her from the room, 
saying— 

" I was right it seems when I placed 
all my reliance on Wilfred's honour 
— none on my daughter's duty and 
obedience." 

She turned at the door and answered, 

^* I am too old to be talked to of 
duty and obedience. Wilfred can throw 
me from him (and can kill me) by 
speaking five little words ; none else can 
separate us — nothing but those words 
shall come between us." 

A gesture of her father's obliged her 
to pass without further speech through the 
door which he held open for her. 



BOND AND FREE. 209 

Coming back to Wilfred, Mr. Nar- 
penth said, in a heartbroken way — 

'^ Marry her when you please ! It is 
no use to strive against such a will ! " 

Wilfred, who had sunk into a chair im- 
mediately he entered the room, gazed 
vacantly at the speaker, not seeming to 
hear or to understand, but shaking as if 
in an ague-fit. Mr. Narpenth's anxiety 
took a new direction ; it was evident 
that Wilfred was ill and could not be 
sent out doors again that night. The old 
man helped him to his own room, watched 
by him for the next few hours, and 
then, as soon as the servants were stirring, 
sent for a physician. 

For many weeks Wilfred lay in the 
room to which he had been taken that 
night, and was as sedulously nursed and 
tended as if he had been Mr. Narpenth's 

VOL. II. p 



210 BOND AND FREE. 

son — indeed, he became dearer to him than 
was that son. 

When he was well enough to be moved, 
Wilfred was sent down to Thorndon, that 
change of air might complete his cure. 
Eleanour, whom mingled promises and threats 
had banished thence, then became his nurse. 

How ill her lover had been, Eleanour 
did not know till the danger was past : had 
he died, she would never have forgiven her 
father for having kept her in this 
ignorance. 



211 



CHAPTER XII. 

*' Du liebst mich wohl, ich zweifle nicht daran, 
Und lebte nicht, wenn mir ein Zweif el bliebe ; 
Doch liebst du mich, du lieber boser Mann, 
Nicht so, wie ich dich liebe." 

During his convalescence Eleanour felt that 
Wilfred was completely her own. Feeling 
this — believing in his love, and meeting with 
no opposition to her will — ^her exacting and 
unquiet spirit grew calm ; her lover's in- 
fluence was good, but her own love for him — 
which seemed to be wearing the selfishness 
out of her nature — was the refining in- 
fluence which each day lent her manner 

p2 



212 BOND AND FREE. 

more and more of that meek and quiet grace 
which she knew that Wilfred regarded as 
the crown of true womanliness. 

It was early summer, and very lovely 
weather ; the short walks and longer drives, 
the loiterings in the garden, the rests upon 
a soft couch while Eleanour played or read 
to him — all these were pleasant; and, as 
long as physical feebleness kept his spirit 
languid, they sufficed to make Wilfred be- 
lieve that he was happy. 

Eleanour and Wilfred had no lovers' quar- 
rels ; the lover knew that his mistress had 
faults — for a lover he knew this clearly, and 
felt them keenly — but he believed her to be 
open as the day; he endured no torments 
upon the rack of jealousy ; he did not 
even speculate whether so fierce a flame as 
Eleanour's love had shown itself to be could 
prove a constant flame ; or whether any other 
before him had inspired her with a kindred 



BOND AND FREE. 213 

flame. Had he at this time used the right 
key, the inmost chamber of Eleanour's heart 
might have flown open for him : as it was, 
he did not know all its secrets. 

The returning strength that woke dis- 
cords in Wilfred's life, fortunately or un- 
fortunately, brought a charm to silence them 
for a time. As things were, it seemed to 
him that it was incumbent on him to act in 
accordance with what he knew was Mr. Nar- 
penth's urgent wish — to accept the offer which 
had been made him, and to try and fit him- 
self for the post offered. It appeared to 
him that he had no choice but to do this. 

If it was a sacrifice that he made, it was 
not made by halves ; he plunged desperately 
into the mysteries of banking : it was this 
definite day's work — at once so absorbing 
and so mechanical — which acted as a power- 
ful opiate upon such higher impulses and 
subtler consciousnesses as had begun to 



214 BOND AND FREE. 

stir uneasily within him. Still there were 
lulls and pauses in his busy life when 
the undercurrent of perplexed feeling 
would bubble to the surface; and as the 
novelty of his new life wore off this oc- 
curred oftener, saddening him more and 
more. 

It was not pleasing to Miss Narpenth 
that her poet-lover should be engrossed 
by such vulgar cares as those which had 
occupied her father all his life-time. 

"It is good of him to try it, to please 
papa," she said ; " but he will soon tire 
of it and give it up, I hope : such slavery 
is not fit for him — after we are married, 
at all events, he shall give it up." 

Wilfred had entered upon his new pur- 
suits somewhat prematurely, and too ener- 
getically. He worked indefatigably through 
the trying heat of the summer months. 
When autumn came he was looking frail; 



BOND AND FREE. 215 

alike unfit for a life of close application, 
and unfit to bear the uncertainties of 
temperature of an English winter. In spite 
of Thorndon air and Eleanour's nursing 
his health had never been completely re- 
established since his illness : whether the 
heavy melancholy that preyed upon him 
from time to time were the cause or the 
efiect of his physical state, it would have 
been hard to say. 

One evening, in the Thorndon drawing- 
room at twilight, Eleanour — standing near 
the window, pretending to look out — studied 
her lover's fire-gazing face intently. 
Without— 

" The bitter east-wind was wildly straining 
The yeUow trees in the autumn raining ; " 

within all was warmth, elegance, and 
luxury. Wilfred, sitting near the hearth, 
leaning his head on his hand, watched the 
flickering blaze with a face so coldly sad, 



216 BOND AND FREE. 

SO palely wearj, that Eleanour, as she 
looked at him, with difficulty suppressed a 
sob, half of pain, half of anger. Ap- 
proaching him at last, she knelt on the 
hearth-rug before him, and took his 
hand in hers. 

" You are looking so tragically serious, 
dearest," she said. 

He smiled down on her ; but the smile 
was not a bright one, and it died 
out quickly. 

" What papa says about you is true." 

He did not ask what that was ; she con- 
tinued : — 

" Now look at this hand, Wilfred, as it 
lies in mine ; is it fit to be a man's 
hand ? Mine is not large or coarse, even 
for a woman ; but see how thin and 
white yours is. There ! when I hold it 
up before the fire it appears almost 
transparent, and the long fingers are so 



BOND AND FREE. 217 

very slight. It is a dear and beautiful 
hand — my poet's hand ; but I wish — I wish 
it looked less frail." 

She pressed the hand that she had 
been playing with to her lips. 

" Do not fret or weary yourself about 
me, love/' Wilfred answered quietly — in 
what she called his repressing manner. 

^^ But I must— I will ! You look ill 
and sad. You cannot say that you are 
well and strong — you cannot say that 
you are content and happy." 

" Do not turn inquisitor, dear Eleanour 
— it is not safe. I have warned you 
many times to be less of an anatomist. 
Nothing earthly will bear to be looked 
at too curiously, or to be picked to 
pieces — earthly happiness certainly will 
not bear to be treated thus." 

" But you know that you are not 
happy ! That tiresome office work wears 
and worries you." 



218 BOND AND FREE. 

" Indeed no ! Work is a blessing 
beyond all other blessings, almost, to one 
who has led such an idle life." 

" But you cannot say that, in spite of 
this blessing, you are content and happy. 
Why are you not so ? " 

" Eleanour ! Eleanour ! are there no secret 
chambers in your heart into which you find 
it not well to look much? Do you wish 
to compel me to strict self-scrutiny? For 
my not being content — it is not in some 
natures to be content — perhaps it is not 
in mine. For my not being happy, I do 
not even believe in happiness. Do you 
not know enough of me to know that 
the burden of my half-knowledge must 
press upon me ? Can I remember that I 
have a living father, of whose name, temp- 
tation, crime, and misery, I am ignorant; 
of whose present way of life I know no- 
thing, but whom circumstances may at any 



BOND AND FREE. 219 

time throw into my path — can I remember 
this — and be happy and content ? ^' 

She pressed her cheek against his knee 
and sighed : — 

^^If only you loved me as I love you, 
all this would be nothing to you ! '' 

"It would not be right that all this 
should be nothing to me. You must feel 
that it would not be right ! And there 
is more, Eleanour, if you are intent upon 
my confession — a great remorse, which is 
as vague as it is great, preys on me. 
All my being seems in conflict. I have 
many consciences : one upholds what the 
other condemns — what is right, what wrong, 
I- do not know. Then I am weighed 
upon by a sense of wasted power — by 
the possession of faculties that seem su- 
perfluous — at the same time that life, 
duty, love, all things seem too much for 
me — seem to overtask my feebleness. Once 



220 BOND AND FREE. 

you called me unmanly. I fear that I am 
unmanly, Eleanour — weak where I should be 
strong; and yet not altogether weak, as I 
feel sometimes, when I struggle mightily 
in great and awful darkness, and almost 
grasp the truth." 

" I do not understand you," Eleanour 
said, shaking her head, while perplexity 
and pain clouded her handsome face. " You 
remind me, however, of something I read 
this morning, and marked to read to 

you." 

She rose, took a book from the table, 
and then resumed her former place, reading 
by the light of the fire: — 

'^ ^ Si vous etes femme, si vous etes sage, 
et si votre coeur, tout en prenant feu, se 
donne encore le temps de choisir, ecoutez 
un conseil; n'aimez ni un Voltaire, ni un 
Jean- Jacques, ni un Goethe, ni un Chateau- 
briand, si, par hazard, 11 vous arrive de 



BOND AND FREE. 221 

rencontrer de tels grands homme sur votre 
chemin. 

" *Aimez, qui done? Aimez qui bonnement 
et pleinement vous le rendra, aimez qui 
ait a vous offrir, tout un eoeur, n'eut il 
aueun nom celebre. Un Des Grieux hon- 
nete et une Manon sage, voila Tideal de 
ceux qui savent etre lieureux en silence, la 
gloire en tons dans le tete-a-tete ne fait 
que tout gater.' " * 

^^ If I did not believe better of you, I 
might think that you wished to mock me, 
Eleanour ! What is this to us ? I have 
no name, fame, or glory to offer you — it is 
not such things as these that threaten your 
happiness.'' 

"You will win name, fame, and glory, 
Wilfred! But I will never be jealous of 
them— I will accept the love you have left 
for me, and be proud of the name that 
you will make un nom celebre ^ 
* Sainte-Beuve. 



222 BOND AND FREE. 

" You are building up false hopes, which 
you will never see realized." 

"You do not mean that you will never 
write again ? You do not mean to let 
your imagination go to sleep ? " 

" If it will, it may ! " 

" Do you mean to settle down into no- 
thing but a banker, then ? '^ 

" If I can, I will." 

" You cannot, and you know you can- 
not — that is my consolation I You are 
trying to torment me." 

" No, Eleanour ; nor am I speaking 
otherwise than seriously. I shall endea- 
vour to be true to the responsibilities your 
father has laid upon me — this is the very 
least I can do for him and for you. Eleanour, 
why would you love me so wilfully? Why 
would you not give me up? If you will 
have the truth, the humiliation of my 
present position seems sometimes more than 
I can bear!" 



BOND AND FREE. 223 

Eleanour rose and drew away from her in- 
comprehensible lover. As she stood proudly 
erect in the bright firelight — which played 
upon the rich warm colour of her dress, 
and flashed upon her jewels — he watched 
her, with no feeling that they were akin, 
and no belief that one day this woman 
would be his wife. 

"Sometime, Eleanour," he continued, "even 
you will despise me — sometime even you will 
feel that I should, at all costs of pain to both 
of us, have refused to let you link your life 
to mine, and have drifted on to meet my 
fate alone. If I go away for this winter, 
try your heart once more — try and teach it 
not to love me." 

" If you go away ! " Eleanour repeated. 
Startled love banished her haughty displea- 
sure. "If you go away! What does that 
mean, Wilfred?" 

" I have been wishing and dreading to 
tell you what it means. At your father's 



224 BOND AND FREE. 

desire, I went yesterday to consult a phy- 
sician ; I am to see him again in a few 
days. He told me that it would probably 
be advisable for me to spend next winter 
abroad. When I go again he will tell me 
something more definite." 

Eleanour had glided behind Wilfred's 
chair : she twined her arms round his neck 
and rested her head against his. 

^* You shall not leave me ! If you must 
go, we will go together; we will be mar- 
ried first, and I shall have the right to 
take care of you. I could not bear to be 
left behind — alone ! " she whispered. 

*' For once you will find me firm as 
adamant, Eleanour ! It shall not be as 
you say, love — if I am forced to go, I go 
alone. Your father expressly desires now 
that our marriage should not be hurried — 
a few months may put me in possession 
of ." 

'^ I know, I know ! " she shuddered 



BOND AND FREE. 225 

slightly, as she spoke. *^ You must not 
go, if I may not go too — it would be 
dreadful ! I could not bear it ! '^ 

**yery well, Eleanour. You shall decide 
whether I go or stay. I do not suppose 
that one way or the other it will be quite 
a matter of life and death." 

" Life and death ! — how shockingly you 
talk. I feel that papa will make me send 
you. Oh ! what a dreary, gloomy winter 
mine will be ! '* 

"We must live through it, by looking 
forward to the spring.^' 

" You say that easily. '' 

" You think that I shall part from you 
without pain ? " 

*^ Oh no ! not that — I could not bear to 
believe that ! — but you talk so coldly — oh, 
so coldly ! Dear Wilfred, if you could but 
know how often you make my heart ache 
and shiver ! Do you love me ? " 

VOL. II. Q 



226 BOND AND FREE. 

Once more she was on her knees before 
him, and her imploring eyes were full of 
tears. He drew her close and kissed her. 

" Ask that question again, and I will 
doubt if you love me ! " he said. " A 
woman loving perfectly could not doubt the 
truth and honour of the man she loved — 
and when you doubt my love, do you not 
doubt my truth and honour ? " 

The harshness of his words was softened 
by caresses — at that moment he did believe 
that he loved her. 

Wilfred's second visit to the physician 
decided the question of his going abroad. 
A winter in a milder and more settled cli- 
mate was not merely recommended, but 
pronounced to be absolutely necessary for 
the restoration of his health. Mr. Narpenth 
insisted that it should be tried, and by his 
generous insistance laid Wilfred under yet 
one more obligation. That Mr. Narpenth 



BOND AND FREE. 227 

had any interested motive for desiring Wil- 
fred^s absence, not even his stipulation that 
the engagement should continue to be kept 
secret caused Wilfred to suspect. 

Eleanour shrank from the contemplation 
of his long absence with an intense pain 
which was sharpened by jealous fear. During 
the weeks that intervened between the 
physician^s verdict and Wilfred's departure 
he had much to endure from Eleanour — 
many harassing and passionate scenes to 
go through. He had looked forward to 
the actual parting with such dread and 
distress on Eleanour's account, that when 
it was over, when he had fairly started on 
his route, he experienced a sense of relief 
which overpowered his own pain at the pros- 
pect of so long a separation, and made him 
sink back in the railway-carriage with the 
thought — 

*'At last I can have rest! I am my own 

q2 



228 BOND AND FREE. 

again, for a time at least : I can live my 
own life, and I can have rest!'' 

Some of his late interviews with Eleanour 
had exhausted him dangerously — exhausted 
his patience and his strength, and left him 
feeling shattered and irritated ; when he 
now said : — 

" I can at last have rest ! " a delicious 
sensation of release, of languor, and of re- 
pose stole over him. 



229 



CHAPTER XIII. 

" Du bist wie einer Blume, 
So hold und sclion and rein, 
Ich schau dich an und Wehmuth 
Schleicht mir ins Herz hinein." 

Falling again into a vagabond way of 
life, Wilfred was inclined to fall again 
into the former thought-vagabondism ; but 
he strove against this inclination. He felt 
old now ; and when he looked back upon 
his past, he smiled half-sadly, half-mock- 
ingly — regarding all the aspirations of 
that past which were impossible of realiza- 
tion in his present position, and out of 
harmony with it, as the follies and enthu- 



230 BOND AND FREE. 

siasms of youth. He did not believe him- 
self, with his assured prospects, to be any- 
nearer that which had been the goal of his 
desires — happiness — than he had been when 
all before him looked darkly vague and 
threatening ; but by ceasing to strive and 
strain towards that goal, did he not show 
that he had gained in wisdom ; and did he 
not win a good thing — rest ? 

Rest ! Was the mood that had been on 
him so long one of rest? Was it not rather 
one of sloth and indifference, in which the 
waters of his soul grew stagnant? As to 
being wiser than of old, was he not merely 
feebler, more a creature of instinct, less a 
reasoning and willing man? Had he not 
allowed himself to be the plaything of 
impulse and of circumstances, till he was 
now their bounden slave ? Was not his 
present peace one of heathenish indiffer- 
ence, rather than of Christian faith? He 



BOND AND FREE. 231 

tried to stop this self-questioning. He re- 
minded himself that he had always ima- 
gined the acme of human happiness to con- 
sist in loving and in being loved. If he 
were not happy now, surely this was proof 
sufficient that he had expected a happi- 
ness, either of degree or of kind, such as 
never fell to the lot of a mortal. He 
could not doubt that Eleanour loved him. 
He did not notice how much, in all his 
thoughts of her, he dwelt on her love 
for him, how little on his love for her : 
he thought of her very tenderly now that 
they were so far apart, and he missed her in 
a thousand ways — they had lived so much 
together, that he must have missed her 
from mere force of habit, had there been 
no tie between them. Neither did he 
notice how, in all his vague musings 
about abstract womanhood, not such a 
woman as Eleanour presented herself to 



232 BOND AND FREE. 

his fancy as its ideal type ; but a wo- 
man's face, paler, meeker, more purely- 
spiritual, would shine upon him mildly, 
with the soft radiance of dove-like eyes. 
In one of the galleries he most fre- 
quented hung a Madonna before which 
he paused day after day, gazing upon it 
till he felt as if his soul were being 
drawn through his eyes ; and, as he gazed, 
longing to kneel before it and gaze on for 
ever. Might he sit at the feet of such a 
being — of a woman whose utter humility 
should inspire him with utter veneration 
— he believed that his nature would be 
exalted, his spirit enlightened, and his 
soul drawn ever nearer to God, inevitably 
and unconsciously. The feeling he could 
entertain for such a woman would, how- 
ever, be — so he told himself — not love, but 
religion— and mortals, he supposed, needed 
to be loved by a woman, not to spend 



BOND AND FREE. 233 

life in the worship of a saint; that a true 
man's true love for a true woman will be 
a complex feeling of protecting tenderness 
for a weaker and inferior creature, and of 
reverent worship for a purer and clearer 
spirit, he had not learnt as yet. 

For Wilfred the winter months glided by 
like a dream in which the past and pre- 
sent intermix confusedly. It startled him to 
hear from Eleanour that some mild, spring- 
like days had already been enjoyed at Thorn- 
don, and that she began to look upon the 
time of his return as near. He felt surprised 
that this winter was passing away unevent- 
fully : the possibility that Mr. Ireton's death 
might at any time bring some great change 
in his fate, was a thought that dwelt with 
him constantly, almost without his conscious- 
ness of its presence. 

Early in the spring Wilfred travelled to 
Heidelberg. 



234 BOND AND FREE. 

" Do not wander again," Eleanour said, 
in the first letter she wrote to him after 
his arrival there. *^I like to think of 
you in one place; perhaps even in a 
month or two I may persuade papa, who 
will not hear of your returning yet, to 
take me to join you at Heidelberg. Some- 
times I think it might be pleasant to 
be married abroad, and escape the fuss 
and worry of an English wedding. If we 
did this, I should take all my friends by 
surprise — for, according to papa's wish, my 
engagement has not been mentioned to 
anyone. At all events, promise me not 
to leave Heidelberg till you start for 
home, or till I have joined you there." 

Wilfred willingly gave the promise Elea- 
nour required — the air of Heidelberg 
suited him ; the weather since he arrived 
there had been lovely. He wandered 
along the winding valley of the Neckar 



BOND AND FREE. 235 

— paced the hill-terraces, watching the swell- 
ing buds of the chestnuts, showing fuller 
each day against the bright, breezy, blue 
sky — ^liaunted the castle to gaze upon the 
glory of the hills and valley at sunset — 
or climbed to the doubtful region of the 
Konigstuhl, to be driven back by mists 
which he was forbidden to face, and 
was well content to remain at beautiful 
Heidelberg. 

There were many English in the town, 
but Wilfred made no acquaintance. He 
listened in amused silence to the high- 
flown praises lavished by the German stu- 
dents on this and that English girl ; and 
from the manner of these praises he formed 
his own idea of the character of the 
beauty in question. " Engelschon," " hold," 
"ruhig," ^' Engel-mild," were epithets which 
impressed him pleasantly. He noted that 
when these were used there was no 



236 BOND AND FREE. 

slightest touch of irreverence or famili- 
arity in the manner of the speakers. 

One evening Wilfred lingered later than 
usual on the hill. All was breathlessly- 
quiet, balmily calm there, and he watched 
the wreathing white mists stealing up 
from the river till the deepening twilight 
rendered everything indistinct, save the 
lights kindling one by one in the town 
below. Rousing himself at last from his 
pleasant trance, to feel that it was late 
and growing cold, he rushed down the 
narrow winding wood-paths impetuously ; 
at a sudden turn he almost ran over 
two women who pursued the same path 
more leisurely. His sudden descent had 
startled them. Just as he was about to 
pass with a brief apology, one of them, 
catching her foot in the root of a tree 
stretching across the way, would have 
fallen but for his timely aid. She uttered 



BOND AND FREE. 237 

a slight cry of pain, and leant heavily 
on his arm and on her companion's shoulder. 

Wilfred began to express his concern 
in German; but, catching a few words of 
English exchanged between the ladies, 
he said : — 

^* I am afraid you have hurt your 
foot, and that through my fault — I startled 
you by my hasty descent. Pray let me 
do anything that may be in my power 
to remedy the mischief I have caused." 

" The pain will soon pass, I daresay ; 
but I must beg your assistance home — 
this child is hardly strong enough to help 
me ; I am lamed for .the time. Fortu- 
nately we have not far to go." 

It was so dark in the wood now that 
Wilfred could not see the faces of either 
of the ladies. Slow as was their progress, 
it was not long before they reached the 
gate of a terraced garden belonging to a 



238 BOND AND FREE. 

small house — standing beneath the castle 
and above the road — which Wilfred had 
often noticed and admired. The lady who 
had before spoken informed him that this 
was their destination. At the gate an 
English servant, who had evidently been 
on the watch, met them. A few words 
explained what had happened. With many 
expressions of concern, she led the way 
into a room from the white curtained 
window of which light streamed out upon 
a tiny lawn. 

'' Why ! it is Wilfred Mason ! " Mrs. 
Southern exclaimed, just as Wilfred had 
recognized his companions. 

Sinking on the sofa, she stretched both 
hands out to him. When his hands were 
again released he turned from the mother's 
agitated face to that of the daughter ; he 
saw that she was altered. Hers was no 
child's face now : the lovely eyes were 



BOND AND FREE. 239 

still serene, and about the mouth dwelt 
the expression of repose he so well re- 
membered ; but the serenity of the eyes was 
dashed and deepened by sadness, and the 
repose of the mouth had something in it 
of patience and resignation. Both Felicia 
and her mother still wore the black they 
had put on in mourning for Herbert. 

*^ And we did not know each other ! " 
Wilfred said, as Felicia's little hand en- 
tered his. 

" Yes — I knew you on the hill directly 
you spoke,'' she said simply. 

" Why did you not tell me, child, 
instead of letting me puzzle myself so — 
trying to fix the voice that seemed so 
familiar on somebody or other? Why did 
you not tell me it was Wilfred ? " 

" I do not know, mamma. I was 
sure you would soon find it out." 

" And I did not instinctively recognize 



240 BOND AND FREE. 

the presence of my Schutzengel ! '' said 
Wilfred. 

The lightness of his tone was assumed. 
A subtle sense of something higher than 
pleasure stole through him as he held 
the girl's hand in his. She turned a little 
from him to hide her tearful eyes ; in 
her joy at meeting Wilfred, Herbert's 
friend, her faithful heart mourned afresh 
for Herbert. Wilfred forgot to drop the 
hand he had taken, while, gazing at the 
slight figure and averted head, he strove 
to discover in what the woman differed 
from the child. The heavy curls had dis- 
appeared from Felicia's shoulders ; but 
to-night when she hastily removed her 
bonnet the braids of her brown hair 
had slipped from round her head, and had 
been pushed back from the small white 
ears and slender throat, as those curls 
had so often been. It was not till she 



BOND AND FREE. 241 

turned her eyes upon him again that Wil- 
fred understood the nature of the chief 
change — the eyes, with dove-hued shades 
beneath them, for all their serenity no 
longer looked like eyes that never wept ; 
the cheeks, so colourless except when some 
emotion tinged them for a moment, were 
not unused to a baptism of tears ; and 
something in the curve of the sweet lips 
betrayed that they oftener smiled in pa- 
tience than in mirth. It was sorrow that 
had made a woman of the child. 

Gently drawing her hand from Wilfred's — 
he seemed to have forgotton that he still held 
it — Felicia turned towards her mother, who 
had leant back, looking faint and pale. 

*^ Mother, dear, your foot hurts you," 
she said. 

*' I think a doctor had better examine 
your mother's foot," Wilfred remarked, 
rousing himself from a saddening train of 

VOL. II. K 



242 BOND AND FREE. 

thought. ^^Have you consulted any one 
here? Do you know anyone you would like 
me to send ? " 

Having received instructions from Felicia 
as to whom he should ask to call, and having 
ascertained that he could be of no further 
use that night, Wilfred took his leave, saying 
that he should venture to call early next day 
to enquire for Mrs. Southern. 

When Wilfred woke next morning, he 
was perplexed to understand the elasticity of 
his own mood as he swung open his case- 
ment and looked out towards the hill. A 
warm rain had fallen in the night, the sun 
shone softly now ; even from that distance 
he fancied he could see a change in the 
woods — fancied that they were thickened by 
buds more nearly ready to burst. No 
wonder that on such a morning a new 
sense of pleasure in the renewing of all 
things — in the renewing of old friend- 



BOND AND FREE. 243 

ship among other things — should fill him 
with a prescience of joy to come. 

He left his quarters early, and naturally 
proceeded straightway to the little house 
in the terraced garden. In all respects 
this little house seemed like an English 
home ; the English servant, whom he 
remembered to have seen at Beech 
Holmes, admitted him to the room in 
which he had been the night before; an 
English breakfast stood ready on the 
table, and a small fire blazed cheerfully 
in an open grate. The projecting case- 
ment window — framed without by greening 
creepers, and within by the shining 
leaves of a delicate kind of ivy — com- 
manded an extensive view down the 
lovely valley of the Neckar ; in this win- 
dow Wilfred stood till the sound of an 
opening door made him look round, and then 
hasten across the room to give his arm 

b2 



244 BOND AND FREE. 

to Mrs. Southern, who entered, leaning 
on Felicia's shoulder. The doctor had 
pronounced the hurt to her foot to be a 
very trifling matter, which a few days' 
rest would set all right; and Felicia had 
not been able to persuade her to keep her 
bed. 

" You must breakfast with us, even if 
you have already breakfasted," Mrs. 
Southern said ; '^ but pray don't imagine 
that we are often so late — I was a little 
tired this morning." 

Wilfred was glad to remain. When 
seated at the table, he found he had 
so placed himself that Felicia's fair head 
and clear profile seemed to be framed by 
the young green ivy leaves. The pure 
morning light poured upon this pretty and 
pleasant picture, and his eyes continually 
returned to the quiet contemplation of it. 

As of old, Felicia talked very little 



BOND AND FREE. 245 

and her mother a good deal. Mrs. 
Southern's manner was subdued ; but 
through all the dimming of sorrow the 
bright and energetic spirit still flashed. 
For an hour or two after break- 
fast was ended Wilfred sat by her 
couch, while Felicia flitted noiselessly 
in and out, and to and fro, diligent 
in household duty, yet full of quiet and 
repose. Mrs. Southern spoke to Wilfred 
of the past — of her son's life, and of his 
death — of his goodness — of the greatness 
of her loss ; she wept a little, but dried 
her eyes and brightened her face to a 
smile when Felicia came in. When alone 
with Wilfred, she said : — 

" I dare not indulge in this way 
often " — alluding to her tears — " Felicia 
devotes her whole life to me. The only 
return I can make her is to keep a 
cheerful face. Thank God ! I can generally 



246 BOND AND FREE. 

keep a cheerful heart, too. It is only 
now and then — when the memory of what 
he was — the sense of what I lost in him — 
comes over me afresh, and for the time is 
stronger than my faith — that I give way. 
As for that quiet child of mine, no one 
can tell the depth of feeling and of suf- 
fering which she hides under her sweet 
serenity." 

" And so you are abroad on account 
of your health," Mrs. Southern said, as 
Felicia re-entered, carrying some books in 
her hand. Her household work was done 
now, and she sat down to the little table 
in the window. " You look much more 
robust than you used to look," Mrs. 
Southern added; ''I hope you have been 
leading a more regular life, not ruining 
your health by overwork and careless 
living." 

" I must tell you all about myself, my 



BOND AND FREE. 247 

position, and my prospects some other day/' 
Wilfred answered. 

As he spoke, he felt that it would not 
be pleasant to him to give a full account 
of himself. He recalled Mr. Narpenth's wish, 
that his daughter's engagement should not 
at present be made known, without dissatis- 
faction. Always somewhat morbidly sensi- 
tive, he felt that he lay open to the 
suspicion of having sold himself and his 
literary ambition for ease and wealth : that 
he should clear himself from any such im- 
putation, by explaining the peculiarity of 
the position in which Eleanour's conduct 
had placed him, was of course impossible. 

He now rose to take his leave; as he 
did so, Mrs. Southern glanced towards her 
daughter. 

" Is it lesson-day again, Felicia ?" she asked. 

Felicia's '^yes, mamma," was followed by 
a heavy sigh. 



248 BOND AND FREE. 

" Poor child ! Wilfred, can you recom- 
mend a German master for Felicia? I want 
her to \ acquire a thorough knowledge of the 
language; and, though she does not often 
dislike people, she dislikes her present 
teacher so excessively, that the lessons are 
quite an infliction." 

"I am afraid all my pleasure in German 
will be spoilt; and I know I should love it, 
if it were not for Dr. Schneider," Felicia 
said, rather plaintively. 

" Schneider ! he is not a fit man — a fussy 
pedant, a regular grammar and dictionary 
man, and not in any way a gentleman. 
Miss Southern ought not to take another 
lesson of such a fellow ; I can understand 
how utterly repugnant to her his presence 
must be." 

" He makes me feel wicked. I am glad 
you justify my dislike a little; but I should 
not wish to hurt his feelings, though I 



BOND AND FREE. 249 

do dislike him so much. I can quite well 
endure a few more lessons, if I may look 
forward to having a pleasanter teacher 
afterwards.^' 

" Can you recommend anyone ? " Mrs. 
Southern asked again. 

" I can make inquiries ; at this moment 
I do not remember anyone whom I should 
like to recommend. What progress have 
you made, Miss Southern ? Can you read 
with tolerable ease ? " 

"I am sure she will not feel at ease 
with you, Wilfred, if you call her ^ Miss 
Southern ! ' " 

" It does not seem natural, ^' Felicia said. 
■ " And it does not seem natural to me, 
to see my little friend grown into a wo- 
man. I was going to say that, if Mrs. 
Southern thinks it would be any advan- 
tage to you to read German with me for 
an hour or two every morning, I am com- 



250 BOND AND FREE. 

pletely idle, and quite at your service." 

" I should think it would be a great ad- 
vantage to Felicia : I know you were even 
formerly a good German scholar." 

*' Well, then I may consider that my 
services are accepted." 

He looked for Felicia's answer. 

^'You are very kind. I am afraid you 
will find me rather stupid; you must not 
spend much time upon me," she said — and 
her sweet face showed the pleasure she felt. 

" Before Wilfred goes, Felicia, take him 
into the garden, and show him the view 
from the upper terrace : a little air will do 
you good, child — prepare you to endure 
your smoky master. You have brought me 
no violets this morning." 

*^ I will get my hat, mamma." 

The hat was not put on, however — as 
Felicia led the way into the garden she 
carried it in her hand ; then, while she 



BOND AND FREE. 251 

sought for violets in shelter of the hedge, 
Wilfred held it for her. The air was so soft, 
and the sunshine so mild, that she did not 
need it even while they paced up and down 
that highest terrace together; talking of 
nothing particular — of the beauty of the 
landscape, the loveliness of the weather — 
and feeling all beauty and loveliness more 
near and more dear than was even their wont. 

By-and-by a long silence fell. As they 
turned at the end of the terrace, Felicia 
looked straight up into Wilfred's face, and 
said, while her fingers played with her 
mother's violets — not tearing them to pieces, 
but touching them softly and caressingly: — 

'^ I have had something against you in 
my heart, and it has pained me to have 
it there." 

Seeing that she trembled, and that her 
eyes filled with tears, Wilfred — with a man- 
ner of protection and of reassuring tender- 



252 BOND AND FREE. 

ness — took her hand and drew it through 
his arm, saying: — 

*' It pains me to hear that I have given 
you pain." 

Felicia withdrew her hand gently, as she 
asked : — 

*' Why did you never write to my dear 
brother? Was it not unkind? Did it not 
seem as if you had forgotten him? He so 
longed to see you or to hear of you. He 
spoke of you just before he died. I think 
he loved you more than you deserved from 
him. Why did you leave his letters un- 
answered ? " 

"Indeed, he did love me more than I 
deserved ! '' Wilfred said, warmly. Then 
he spoke of sickness, disappointment, misery, 
of homeless wanderings ; accusing, while he 
excused himself He spoke pathetically, 
and at some length : the girl's hand volun- 
tarily stole within his arm; and presently 



BOND AND FREE. 253 

— for she had listened with bowed head, and 
he had not been able to read her face — he 
was startled to hear a low sob break from her. 

" Felicia ! " 

Overmastered by emotions long studiously 
repressed, she leant her brow against his 
arm and wept — but not violently or long. 

'^ Do not tell mamma ! " were her first 
words when she could speak ; " she thinks 
I never cry now— I do not often ; but — there 
is so much sorrow in the world, and I used 
to think it was such a happy world." 

A little spring ran from the hill-side 
into a small stone-basin in the garden. 
Felicia paused by it and, kneeling down, 
bathed her eyes with her handkerchief. 

Wilfred stood by watching her: his heart 
was full of contending feelings — ^for him Fe- 
licia was all the child again ; and yet — 
Turning up her pale, faintly -smiling face to 
the sunshine presently, she asked : — 



254 BOND AND FREE. 

"Do my eyes show that I have been 
crying now ? '' 

Shading his own eyes with his hand 
he looked into hers : they were dimmed, 
but peaceful. He answered softly : — 

"No, my child." 

"Miss Felicia, your German master is 
come," the servant announced. 

Wilfred took his leave of Felicia at 
the house-door with the words: — 

"To-morrow I am to be your master. 
Good-bye, dear little pupil." 

She smiled brightly and went in. 

" All the child still," he murmured. 
"Purely child-hearted, without a touch of 
unchildlike self-consciousness. God keep her 
as she is!" 

He wandered along the valley ; not think- 
ing, not heeding, where he wandered. An 
exquisite melancholy, a dim sense of sorrow, 
a religious feeling of the fresh beauty of 



BOND AND FREE. 255 

all things, was over him. He did not re- 
turn to his inn till evening. The lamp 
burnt in the parlour of the small house in 
the garden as he passed by it : he longed 
to enter there as to a home of rest. He 
was footsore and weary; but he did not 
enter — he passed on. 



256 



CHAPTER XIV, 

"Machtig seyd ihr, ihr seyd's durch der Gegenwart rulii- 
gen Zauber, 
Was die Stille nicht wirkt, wirkt die rauschender nie." 

Too late for the table-d'hote, Wilfred dined 
in his room. As he sipped his coffee he 
began to look over his whole library of 
German authors; hunting out and marking 
poems and fragments of plays which were 
beautiful enough, and pure enough, to be 
read with Felicia. 

Goethe, Schiller, Uhlan d, Biirger, Chamisso 
Heine, Korner, Geibel, Freiligrath, Lenau, 
and Eiickert soon encumbered his table. 



BOND AND FREE. 257 

Yet from none of these did he select 
much : many things which he would have 
read and discussed with Eleanour were 
rejected for Felicia. He noticed this pre- 
sently, as he passed over a scene that he 
had actually read with Eleanour; and he 
paused to try and account to himself for 
the fact. 

" Felicia is but a child," he said, *^ and 
Eleanour — why, Eleanour is, let me see, she 
is ten or twelve years older than Felicia — she 
is almost my own age, she tells me, and she 
has had much experience of life, too." 

Even as he thought of Eleanour, a 
letter from her was brought to him. A 
longer interval than usual had elapsed 
since he last heard, and he opened her 
letter with the impatience of curiosity or 
of love. In it there was this passage: — 
'^Papa is often very gloomy and de- 
pressed; I think he misses you more than 

VOL. II. s 



258 BOND AND FKEE. 

I do. I do not miss you as I expected 
to do, and this must be because I seem 
to live in you. Do you ever feel that 
your soul is absent from you — present with 
me ? You ought to feel so ; for my soul 
is often with you. My life is often quite 
mechanical — I do things as if in a dream, 
and I think of nothing but you. You 
do not half guess how I love you! You 
cannot guess, for you are too cold ever 
to love as I do ! Beware of trying me 
too long, Wilfred. Come home soon. Some- 
times I feel as if my trance-life could 
not last much longer ; and it will not be 
safe to wake from it till you are home. 
Of course you do not understand me — for 
I do not understand myself. The truth is, 
Wilfred — I know you will be angry, but I 
will speak — the truth is that I am jealous. 
Your letters do not content me — they are so 
brief, and as cold as they are beautiful. 



BOND AND FREE. 259 

I want your looks to contradict your words, 
or I shall begin to doubt if you love me. 
I have written it now, and the words 
frighten me. Oh, write soon, dearest Wil- 
fred, and say that you do love your de- 
voted Eleanour. I have not dared to write 
half I think. I shall be miserable till you 
send me an assurance of your love. Sometimes 
it seems to me as if, loving you, I doomed 
my heart to beat itself out against a rock; 
as if I should wreck all my life upon yours, 
and never win your love — not such love as 
will satisfy me." 

Other parts of the letter were in a yet 
more passionate strain. Wilfred read with 
a contracted brow and a compressed mouth; 
then he laid the letter down, not to write 
immediately a re-assuring answer, but to 
think. 

" Why does she love me ? " he asked. 
" In intellect she is not my inferior — in 

s2 



260 BOND AND FREE. 

knowledge and in worldly experience she 
is in advance of me ; of the little that is 
good and high-toned in my moral nature 
she is ignorant, for in her presence nothing 
calls it forth. What is it in me that 
causes her to love me with this blind, per- 
sistent, and generous passion? Will this 
love last, when daily companionship has 
opened her eyes to what I really am ? 
When uncongenial employment and the 
deadening influence of monotonous prospe- 
rity have killed that power in me upon which, 
exaggerating its nature and degree, she 
builds ambitious hopes, will she then love me? 
When this power is gone, and the glamour 
it spread round is dissipated, will she not 
find that her hero is less than a true man? 
Will she not then hate and despise me with 
the same passionate force with which she 
now loves me ? " 

Wilfred's thoughts next took the direc- 



BOND AND FREE. 261 

tion of moralizing upon the nature of the 
relation which should subsist between a true 
man and true woman, who, as life-long 
companions, are through life to grow more 
and more into each other and unto God. 

The woman, Wilfred thought, should at 
the outset be beyond all question the 
man's intellectual inferior; yet should she 
have intelligence enough to apprehend that 
greatness of masculine intellect with which 
she becomes identified — so that the con- 
sciousness of inferiority should never be felt 
to be a humiliating consciousness. 

More ignorant of the world, and less 
practised in all knowledge than the man, a 
true woman should yet commend herself 
to a man's reverence — by a certain meek 
and unconscious wisdom — by an untroubled 
clearness of moral instinct — by keeping 
about her an atmosphere of spirituality, 
of holy calm, which shall enable the man 



262 BOND AND FREE. 

to rest securely in her from the storm 
and trouble of life; to regard her as his 
guidins-star in times of moral darkness, 
and as his guardian angel in times of 
temptation. 

At peculiar crises the man should be 
able to feel content to take the woman's 
hand and let her lead him, as the veriest 
child may lead the blind ; while, at other 
times, in all the ordinary affairs of life, she, 
like a child, should cling to him — with un- 
reasoning trust in his larger knowledge, his 
stronger reason, and his keener sight. 

Such was Wilfred's fancy of the relation 
that should subsist between husband and 
wife : surely a beautiful fancy, and one not 
impossible of realization. And this, or some- 
thing like this, will continue to be the 
poet's ideal view: he will love to call his 
wife " child," to think of her as of a 
child — true, pure, loving, and trusting as 



BOND AND FREE. 263 

untried and nndefiled childhood; and while 
he can thus think of her, she will be to 
him as one of those " little ones/' to sin 
against whom is to sin more directly against 
their Maker — to sin against whom is next 
to impossible to a truly manly nature. For 
her he will keep himself pure ; and so will 
she prove for him both sword and buckler — 
shielding him from attacks from without, 
repelling those from within. 

Surely those women who clamour for other 
rights ; for place, position, influence, part in 
the world's work and recognition of intel- 
lectual equality — surely such women feel 
that they fall far short of this ideal stan- 
dard; feel that they are neither child-like 
true nor child-like pure ; feel that they have 
nothing of heaven lingering about them, 
and that their kingdom, if kingdom they 
have, must, therefore, be of this world. 

One might almost fear — seeing how the 



264 BOND AND FREE. 

women of to-day are lightly stirred up to 
run after some new fashion of faith or of 
works — that heaven is not so near to them 
as it was to their mothers and their grand- 
mothers — that religion is a feebler power 
with them — that their hearts are empty of 
all secure trust and high faith in the 
beneficence of God's ordinations. 

Surely no reviler and libeller of the sex 
ever put upon women so profound and so 
bitter a reproach as they put upon them- 
selves when their lives become nothing but 
a passionate protest against their woman- 
hood, and a wild straining to throw off, as 
far as may be, its distinguishing charac- 
teristics — to be no longer distinctively re- 
cognized as women, but to assimilate them- 
selves to men by employment, manners, 
speech, and even dress. 

The train of thought into which Wilfred 
had fallen held him a long time : half 



BOND AND FREE. 265 

roused out of it, instead of answering 
Eleanour's letter, he scribbled some verses 
on a blank sheet of paper near him. 
Ashamed of them when they were written, 
he would have tossed them into the fire 
had one burnt in his room ; as it was, he 
hastily folded up the paper and shut it 
into his note-book, to be burnt some other 
time. It did not meet his eyes again, and 
he forgot its existence till long after- 
wards. 

In writing these verses, Wilfred pictured 
himself as married to Eleanour — as having 
been her husband long enough to feel that 
the dainty and delicate fingers of his beau- 
tiful wife were gradually rubbing the bloom 
from love, life, all things ; playing upon 
his heart-strings, and turning all life's music 
into discord ; digging deep into his soul, 
and dragging its most secretly holy things 
out into the garish light of day, in order 



266 BOND AND FREE. 

that the world might admire, and might 
justify her choice by its admiration. 

He pictured himself as becoming utterly 
heart-sick — sick of his wife's beauty, wis- 
dom, accomplishments — most of all sick of 
those fine feelings which she allowed the 
slightest breeze to unfurl and flutter in the 
faces of all beholders. He pictured himself 
as conscious that her nature scorched and 
shrivelled up the finer attributes of his 
own, as a fierce sun must scorch up seed 
sown in stony and exposed places ; and, 
at the same time, fully conscious that, 
after her nature, she loved him well, and 
that the bond between them was a life- 
long one. He thought of himself as de- 
spairing of escape from her presence ; as 
half maddened by desperate longing to be 
able to throw a veil over her — body and 
soul — to be able to keep her imprisoned 
in its folds, that she might cease to blast 



BOND AND FREE. 267 

him bj her over-bright beauty, and her 
utter want of reticence. 

Finally, he described himself as — driven 
to extremities by the ghoul-like nature of 
his dainty, delicate-fingered, beautiful, and 
gifted wife — seeking darkness, quiet, and 
rest in a grave, and even there not finding 
them : as haunted, even there, by a con- 
sciousness that his widow's flag of feeling 
was waving above him ; that the world 
was called upon to admire her grief, 
her constancy, and the marble " hope, 
pointing to heaven," which she had placed 
over him. 

Such was the purport of the verses which 
one day fell into Eleanour's hands. 

The next morning was the first of many 
similarly spent. Wilfred went early to the 
little house in the garden and read German 
with Felicia for two hours; he varied 
these readings with such subtle care and 



268 BOND AND FREE. 

skill, that Felicia never wearied of them : 
after the reading was over Wilfred and Feli- 
cia, and, when she had quite recovered from 
her accident, Mrs. Southern, walked out toge- 
ther. Lovely Heidelberg looked lovelier each 
day, and the rambles grew longer and longer. 

Felicia's progress in German was rapid. 
She was not quick of intellect, but when 
her heart was interested that quickened her 
whole nature, and her appreciation of truth 
and beauty was deep and clear. Her face 
was an interesting study ; Wilfred found 
that if in their readings they came upon 
a page of misty philosophy, or upon a 
poem that was only learned, intricate or 
ingenious, this tell-tale face grew dull and 
its eyes dim. 

" Let us pass on to something else ; this 
does not interest you," Wilfred always said 
when he saw this. 

He was sure to be rewarded by a bright 



BOND AND FREE. 269 

and grateful smile, and bj the most earnest 
attention to what he next selected. 

Wilfred only slightly mentioned *^ the 
Southerns" in his letters to Eleanour, and 
did not mention his newly-found occupation 
and interest. 

" Eleanour is naturally of a jealous dis- 
position ; she would torment herself with 
groundless fears and suspicions, and she 
would not in the least understand the sort 
of feeling I have for the dear child," he 
said to himself, in self-justification. 

Did he himself the least understand 
the sort of feeling that was growing and 
strengthening in his heart for " the dear 
child ? " Did he apprehend no danger for 
himself, or for the child, from this intimate 
intercourse, which must at no distant time 
be completely and for ever broken off? 
^^ Completely, at no distant time, and for ever 



270 BOND AND FREE. 

broken off" — he thought that his safety 
was contained within his certain know- 
ledge that this must be so — that hers con- 
sisted in her perfect simplicity and innocency 
of heart. 



271 



CHAPTER XV. 

" Mir ist als ob ich die Hande 
Auf s Haupt dir liegen soUt, 
Betend dass Gott dich erhalte, 
So rein, und schon, und hold." 

*' To doubt her fairness were to want an eye; 
To doubt her pureness were to want a heart." 

"I WAS just going to put my books 
away — I thought you were not coming this 
morning." 

Felicia rose from the table in the ivy- 
framed window as she spoke, and gave 
her hand to Wilfred with a bright smile. 
He was an hour later than usual, and she 
had given him up. 



272 BOND AND FREE. 

"I have been writing letters. '* 

The occupation had reminded Wilfred of 
the rapid flight of time — of the near ne- 
cessity for fixing a day for his departure. 
He spoke gravely. 

^^ You have had no bad news ? " Mrs. 
Southern asked. 

" Oh no ! Am I gloomy as well as un- 
punctual? Do not put away your books, 
Felicia — I hope you do not mean to punish 
me by not reading to-day. I have a 
long list of favourites for this morning: 
we may not have many more mornings — 
I must soon think of returning home." 

Felicia's eyes drooped, but she said no- 
thing. Without further preface, Wilfred 
opened a volume of Schiller's short poems, 
and pointed to the ballad of Ritter Tog- 
genburg. Felicia began reading; but her 
master's attention wandered — he omitted to 
correct her. "Die Schone engel-mild," he 



BOND AND FREE. 273 

kept repeating to himself, and his eyes 
rested Upon the face of the reader — so 
dangerously near his own — instead of upon 
the book. His thoughts wandered wildly 
this morning; for he presently found him- 
self speculating as to whether, had he been 
free to woo, he, like Ritter Toggenburg, 
could have won nothing but ** treuer Schwes- 
ter-liebe" from "die Schone engel-mild'^ be- 
side him. 

"You have hardly corrected me at all/' 
Felicia said, looking up into his face as 
she finished, with one of her direct and 
earnest looks. 

" Do you like the ballad ? " he asked. 

His eyes fell before her clear glance, 
and his colour rose slightly. 

"Yes, only I could not help thinking 
that, instead of passing his life in watch- 
ing for his lady's face at the convent- 

VOL. II. T 



274 BOND AND FREE. 

window, the knight might have found some 
good work to do for her sake." 

^^ You unromaritic practical child ! " Mrs. 
Southern exclaimed. 

Afraid that she had said what was 
foolish, Felicia's eyes questioned Wilfred 
somewhat timidly. He smiled, but the 
smile was not in the least scornful, and she 
was content. 

"Das Madchen aus der Fremde," "Die 
Theilung der Erde," "Wiirde der Frauen," 
and "Macht des Weibes," were next read; 
then " Der Handschuh : " this last ballad 
was spoilt by one line, Felicia thought— 
so she said, when Wilfred pressed for her 
opinion of it. 

"Und er wirft ihr den Handschuh in^s 
Gesicht." 

"A knight who could throw her glove 
into a lady's face, on any provocation, 



BOND AND FREE. 275 

was not worthy of a more gentle-hearted 

lady — was he ? " 

" Your criticism is just — the poet's first 
thought was the best. See ! this different 
line stands at the bottom of the page — 
* Und der Kitter sich tief verbeugend 
spricht ; ' that is certainly more knightly 
conduct. Now let us have something 
from Uhland — 1 want you to read the 
ballad ^ Yom treuen Walther.' " * 

* The following is a rough translation of this beautiful 
and pathetic ballad : — 

THE BALLAD OF TRUE WALTER. 

The true Walter was riding by 
The chapel of Our Lady : 
There knelt, in deepest penitence, 
A maiden on the threshold. 
" stay, O stay, my Walter dear ! 
Know you no more the voice's sound 
That once you heard so gladly ? " 

" Whom see I here? — ^the faithless maid, 

Who once, alas once, was mine ! 

Where have you left your silken gown, 

Where left your gold and jewels ? " 
' O that I ever left my truth ! 

Lost, ah lost, is my Paradise, 

With thee I could retrieve it." 

T 2 



276 BOND AND FREE. 

While Felicia read, Wilfred watched her 
covertly. As she came to the last verse, 
her cheek paled and her eyes widened 

To horse he raised the lovely maid, 
He felt a soft compassion ; 
And she clung fast around his waist 
With arms so white and tender. 
" Ah, Walter dear ! my loving heart, 
It beats on cold and hfeless bronze, 
It beats not on your own heart." 

On they rode to Walter's castle ; 
The place was empty and still, 
She loosed the hehnet of the knight — 
Gone was his bloom of beauty. 
" I'hese paUid cheeks, these mournful eyes. 
These are thy crown, thou faithful love ? 
To me wer't ne'er so lovely." 

His armour loosed the gentle maid 

From him whom she had wounded. 
" What see I ? ah ! a sable garb, 

Who died, by thee beloved? " 
" My dearest, whom I mourn for sore, 

Whom I, on earth, find never more, 

Nor shall Jind beyond the grave.'''' 

She sank down lowly at his feet. 
Wide arms out-stretching wildly : 
' ' Here lie I, a poor penitent. 
Thee pray I for compassion. 
O raise me up to new, f lesh joy ! 
Let me upon thy faithful breast 
Be healed of all my sorrow ! " 



BOND AND FREE. 277 

and filled with tears. She read badly, for 
her voice almost failed her. Wilfred re- 
peated after her : — 

" Steh auf, steh auf, du armes Kind, 
Ich kann dicli nicht erheben ; 
Die Arme mir versclilossen sind, 
Die Brust ist ohne Leben. 
Sey traurig stets, wie ich es bin ! 
Die Lieb' ist bin ! die Lieb' ist bin ! 
Und kehret niemals wieder." * 

Wilfred read the verse with pathos. He 
was content that Felicia should be silent — 
not even raising her lids — when he had 
finished. 

^* I am sure you like that ballad," he 
said ; "I think there is something inex- 
pressibly sad and noble about it : the last 
verse breathes such holy constancy of en- 

* " Arise ! arise ! ob thou poor child, 
For I may not raise thee up ; 
These arms of mine are firmly closed, 
Lifeless is this my bosom. 
Be mournful ever, as am I, 
For love is flown, for love is flown — 
And it never comes again." 



278 BOND AND FREE. 

during sorrow, together with such tender 
forgiveness and compassion. One can fancy 
that the maiden died at his feet, broken- 
hearted, as his simply severe words awoke 
in her a full consciousness of her crime 
of faithlessness to one so faithful. I think 
you are tired. I will read to you now, 
* Der Konig auf dem Thurme.' " 

He read, but Felicia did not immediately 
grow calm and quiet again — the last lines — 
uttered with repressed passion, by the voice 
which she thought beautiful above all other 
voices — made her heart vibrate with emo- 
tions of sadness and longing which she did 
not understand; — 

" ' O selige Rast, wie vsrlang' ioli dein ! 
O herrliche Nacht, wie saumst du so lang, 
Da ich schaue der Sterne licliteren Schein 
Und hbre volleren Klang ! " 

So read Wilfred, and Felicia believed that 
it was his own sadness breathing through 



BOND AND FREE. 279 

these words which echoed so painfully in 
her heart. 

"How full of ^Wehmuth' and * Sehn- 
sucht' those lines are, and what untrans- 
latable words are those two ! They mean 
something far deeper and more subtle than 
is expressed by such English words as 
* melancholy ' and * desire,' do they not ? 
Now we will have something more cheerful, 
for I do not know why I should strive to 
sadden you." 

After " Des Goldschmied's Tochterlein," 
and " Jungfrau Sieglinde" had been gone 
through, Mrs. Southern interposed : — 

" I do not know how long you two would 
go on if I did not stop you," she said; " I 
cannot stay in-doors any longer this lovely 
day, however, and I think it quite time 
you shut up your books." 

They looked down the valley — which 
seemed filled full with sunshine, from the level 



280 BOND AND FREE. 

of the golden flashing water to the overarch- 
ing blue of the sky — and obeyed Mrs. South- 
ern's behest, without much reluctance. 

*^You have dutifully read all your master 
has required of you — now, have you any 
commands to lay on him?" Wilfred asked, 
a few mornings later. 

Felicia's dainty Gesangbuch lay on the 
table : she took it in her hand ; but her 
soft eyes were shy and anxious as she 
said : — 

" Some of these hymns seem to me 
very beautiful ; will you read a few of my 
favourites, and see if you like them ? " 

There was a slightly disdainful curve on 
Wilfred's lip as he answered : — 

"I am at your service — pleased to please 
you, my child." 

He let her hold the book, and he read 
what she pointed out — Luther's *^Ein fester 



BOND AND FREE. 281 

Burg," and ^^ Aus tiefer Noth;" Paul Ger- 
hardt^s "Nun ruhen alle Walder;" Chris- 
tian Gellert's " Herr, starke mich," and 
then ** Gelobt sey, der den Friihling 
schafft." 

"I am afraid you do not care for 
them," she said ; " perhaps they are not 
good poetry — perhaps I am not familiar 
enough with German to see their defects 
— still, I do think that if I were a Ger- 
man girl I should be very fond of my 
Gesangbuch, and very proud of it ! " 

She raised her eyes to his as she spoke, 
with a certain air of meek assurance, and of 
soft audacity. He took more than a fleeting 
glance into their clear depths as he answered : — 

" I should like you to teach me to 
love what you love. Eead to me now, if 
you are not tired, some more of those 
hymns which you like the best.'* 

She complied, chose — 



282 BOND AND FREE. 



" WoKl dem, der sich auf seinen Gott, 
Recht kindlich kann verlassen," * 



and 



" Gieb dich zufrieden und sell stille." f 

"There is a charm about them, cer- 
tainly ! " Wilfred said, breaking a grave 
silence. ''An unmystical mysticism — a spi- 
ritual materialism. There is something sooth- 
ing in the reverent familiarity with which 
they treat of the highest spiritual truths ; 
they seem to express the simple faith of 
children — children of light.'' 

Gazing at Felicia, still bending lovingly 
over her book, he thought — 

• " 'Tis well witli him who on his God 
Right childlikely relieth." 
t The first verse of which is thus translated by Miss 
Winkworth, in the " Lyra Germanica: — " 
" Be thou content ; be still before 

His face, at whose right hand doth reign 
Fullness of joy for evermore ; 

Without whom all thy toil is vain. 
He is thy living spring, thy sun, whose rays 
Make glad with life and light thy dreary days — 
Be thou content." 



BOND AND FREE. 283 

^^ And you are a child of light ! — how 
far above me you stand ! Expressions of 
utter faith and of absolute resignation have 
nothing unnatural in them when they fall 
from your lips. For the future there will 
be a Saint Felicia in my calendar." 

**May I borrow your book, Felicia? 
I feel that one must know these inti- 
mately before one loves them well," he said 
aloud. 

She lifted up a pleased face. 

** Will you have it to keep ? I should 
so much like to give you something," she 
said simply. "Not in return for your 
kindness, but to thank you for it." 

"I will have it to keep then. I shall 
like to possess something that has been 
yours — and this book will be a fitting 
memento of you. Will you write my 
name in it ? " 

He put a pen into her hand. She took 



284 BOND AND FREE. 

it, looked at the blank page, and then at 
Wilfred, and asked : — 

^'What shall I write ?'^ 

The look and the question suggested a 
whole train of gloomy thoughts. 

'* Write nothing but ^ Wilfred, from Fe- 
licia,' " he said. 

He held the book open in his hand, 
gazing at the writing, and fell into a re- 
verie. Mrs. Southern, who was gardening 
outside, startled him from his musings by 
looking in at the window, to summon him 
and Felicia into the garden to her assist- 
ance. 

Wilfred put the little book into its case, 
and thrust it into his breast-pocket. 

When they appeared in the sunny gar- 
den together, Mrs. Southern gave them 
one of her quick, careful glances. 

" You both seemed very grave when I 
peeped in on you,'* she said. 



BOND AND FREE. 285 

" Mamma, you know I wanted to give 
Wilfred something," Felicia answered; "I 
have given him my Gesangbuch. We have 
been reading from it, and he means to 
try and get fond of it. Did you not 
say so, Wilfred?" 

" I am not sure whether I said so — at 
all events, I meant so.'' 



286 



CHAPTEE XVL 

" ' Jealousy in love? ' 
" Not rather dead love's harsh heir — jealous pride? " 

" Je tremble quand je te vois." 

The bluest of May heavens overarched 
Heidelberg — the brightest and warmest of 
May suns shone upon the fully green 
chestnuts, the soft-plumed larches, the dark 
firs, the grand old castle on the wooded 
hill, and the golden -brown water and gray 
rocks of the Neckar. 

A heavy sadness weighed upon Wilfi-ed. 
The voice which continually cried to him, 
" return, return ! '* was in unison with 



BOND AND FREE. 287 

nothing in his life, and made discord of 
all its music. The more sad he grew, 
the more kind was Mrs. Southern, the 
more gentle and loving Felicia. 

Felicia ! — he was waking to the con- 
sciousness that her name had a new sig- 
nificance for him. His nights now were 
often fevered and sleepless ; and during 
them her image was constantly before his 
eyes — ^her name rang through his heart 
and brain incessantly. Felicia ! — she was 
the embodiment of that happiness he had 
ever craved ; she was the realization of 
the ideal of his day-dreams. 

JFelicia ! — why did he fear to meet her 
dove-like eyes now ? — what was he afraid 
of reading in them ? Why did he often 
tremble in her presence — the presence of 
"the dear child?" Why did her watch- 
ful tenderness and reverent meekness often 
pain him more than the utmost anger and 



288 BOND AND FREE. 

contempt of which she was capable could 
have done ? Why, when high, pure, and 
true thoughts rose to his lips in Saint 
Felicia's presence, did he hesitate to utter 
them ? Why, if he uttered them, did he 
feel himself a deep-dyed hypocrite, and 
shrink from the praise of her true eyes? 
He did not dare attempt to answer these 
questions plainly. He resolved to leave 
Heidelberg, but from day to day delayed 
to do so : each day that might yet be 
spent there, with and near Felicia, was 
so unspeakably precious ; and, in the future, 
what difference would the memory of a 
few more or less of such days make ? 

Eleanour's letters had been few and brief 
during the last six weeks : in the middle 
of May lie received one little calculated 
to act as oil upon the troubled waters of 
his soul. It began abruptly: — 

" I dare your displeasure, if I accuse 



BOND AND FREE. 289 

jou unjustly ; and I tell you plainly — I 
mistrust you, Wilfred! 

" You have mentioned ^ the Southerns,' 
and you spoke of them with a coldness 
and caution in themselves suspicious, con- 
sidering that they are old friends. 1 have 
met with some one who knows the girl 
Felicia. It seems that she is a paragon 
of meek goodness and of child-like beauty. 
I hate her without knowing her, for I am 
jealous. / am no meek girl, but a pas- 
sionate woman. I know that I can hate 
— oh ! God, if I have to learn to hate 
you. The pain of jealousy is horrible tor- 
ment — it hurts me through and through 
— it wounds my pride as well as my love. 

"Come home! It is hard that I should 
have to say this. Week after week I have 
waited, expecting to hear that you were 
coming. Now, I say come, and end my 
pain. Nothing shall separate us while I 

VOL. II. u 



290 BOND AND FREE. 

can believe that you love me. If you 
knew how much — and for what reasons — I 
want you ! If you love me, come home 
at once ! " 

'' The end is at hand, then ! " Wilfred 
cried. ^^ I will answer her letter in 
person — I will start to-night, and travel 
without stopping/' 

This resolution was taken at once — in 
feverish haste. 

It was still early morning — there was 
plenty of time for making his few ar- 
rangements. By -and "by, he took his way 
to the little garden-house, saying to him- 
self, " for the last time ! " He saw Mrs. 
Southern and the maid in the market- 
place; he knew that Felicia would be 
waiting at home alone, in expectation of 
her usual lesson. He walked more and 
more slowly; he even altogether paused — 
he felt afraid to meet her. 



BOND AND FREE. 291 

'^ I alone bear the burden," he kept 
repeating. *^ She loves me ; but with an 
innocent, child-like, painless love. She will 
miss me, and she will grieve for me a little ; 
but not as I shall grieve for her — Felicia, 
my Felicia ! " 

Walk as slowly and pause as often as 
he might, he reached the little garden- 
house at last. He entered noiselessly, 
and, as he stood in the tiny vestibule, he 
could see Felicia, sitting in her accus- 
tomed place, but idle, her cheek leant 
upon her hand. The down-cast, musing 
face and the drooping form expressed — 
what? Dejection? And what cause for 
dejection could Felicia have? He remem- 
bered now how, when last night he had 
spoken of his near departure — not know- 
ing, however, how near it was — she had 
turned her face from him quickly — as 
if to hide her trouble. Why should 

u2 



292 BOND AND FREE. 



she wish to hide her trouble — unless- 



Conscious passion blazed up from the 
embers of smouldering love, as Wilfred 
gazed upon the half averted face. He 
trembled, and his heart beat with suffo- 
cating violence. There she sat, still and 
pure, fair and frail as a white flower. 
Feeling that he was not fit to enter 
her presence — all wild-thoughted and 
fever-blooded as he was — he had made 
up his mind to retreat^ when, at that 
very moment, Felicia turned and saw 
him. She started slightly, and she passed 
her hand across her eyes : a blush 
crossed her face as she rose to meet 
him : the troubled beating of her heart 
made a chain she wore — a chain of 
Herbert's hair — vibrate violently : — 

^' You startled me," she said, faintly. 
^^ You are ill to-day," she added, pre- 
sently; conscious of a wild strangeness in 



BOND AND FREE. 293 

his eyes. " It is hot out, is it not ? 
Do take this chair and rest — I am sure 
that you are ill." 

He sank into the chair she placed for 
him ; he covered his face with his hands, 
pressing his fingers on his throbbing 
temples. 

*^ I have a rather severe headache — 
the light is strong," he answered, and 
felt as if the light of her pure presence 
were stronger than he could bear. 

Felicia let down the green blind. 

" I wish mamma were at home," she 
said. " You are not only ill — you are 
in trouble. You should not have come 
out feeling so ill — you should have sent 
for mamma to come and see you." 

" Should I have left Heidelberg to-night 
and not first have seen you again, Felicia ? " 
He raised his head as he spoke. '^Perhaps 
it would have been better" — he added. 



294 BOND AND FREE. 

" You leave Heidelberg to-night ? " 

She had been standing before him — her 
compassionate gaze fixed upon him. Now 
she sat down — her heart paused in its 
beating. 

All within and without seemed to her to 
turn black — to whirl round giddily — it 
was with difficulty that she kept her 
seat. 

*^ I leave Heidelberg to-night," he said. 
He watched — with what even then seemed 
to ?iim to be brutal stupidity and apathy — the 
increasing pallor of Felicia's face, the waxen 
whiteness of the little trembling hand that 
stole up to hide the trembling of her 
mouth. 

If she had burst into tears, and if the 
tears had been shed on his breast with 
child-like abandonment, they might have 
sobered him ; the womanly self-restraint of 
her bearing was as fuel to fire — teaching 



BOND AND FREE. 295 

him the flimsiness of the sophistry by which 
he had tried to convince himself that he 
should leave her child-hearted as he had 
found her — whispering to him that all cau- 
tion was now vain, all self-denial too late. 

There followed a very long and very 
painful silence. Wilfred broke it by say- 
ing :— 

" Perhaps we had better not read to- 
day — I am hardly fit to read with you 
to-day. I will leave you now and come 
again in the afternoon to see your mother. 
I do not go till evening." 

Quite mechanically Felicia began to ar- 
range her books, preparatory to putting them 
all away. 

When Wilfred rose she also rose, but 
asked : — 

" Will you not stay till mamma 
comes ? " 

He did not answer, except by holding out 



296 BOND AND FREE. 

both his hands — m a moment hers were 
clasped in them. At their touch he seemed 
utterly to lose all self-command — he drew 
her towards him, drew her into his arms, 
pressed her to his heart — his hot kisses fell 
thick upon the smooth young cheek, the 
fresh young lips, the pure, pale brow, 
while he said : — 

" I love you ! You only, Felicia, and I 
am bound to another woman. I hold you in 
my arms for the first time, and the last — I 
may never, never trust myself to see you 
again! you will never desire to see me again." 

She did not struggle in his hold — she 
let him do with her as he would — it was 
as if he lavished his caresses on a corpse. 
When he at last released her, she lifted 
up her pallid face and looked at him. 
The questioning incredulity, the mute agony 
of reproach, the intense desolation expressed 
by that look, haunted him through many 



BOND AND FREE. 297 

years of his life — he felt the utter loss it 
spoke — the loss of love, esteem, all, toge- 
ther. He could not bear it; he rushed 
from her, blinded and maddened by a swift 
remorse. 

She had staggered from his arms to lean 
against the wall ; she rested against it a 
few moments with listlessly down-hanging 
arms and a blank white face ; then she 
sank gradually down upon the ground. 
Some pigeons she had tamed flew in at 
the open door; they hopped about close to 
her, picking up the crumbs that had been 
left on the floor since breakfast-time, and 
eyeing her askance with their sharp, bright 
eyes. She did not faint, for she watched 
them ; she did not think, but four lines 
from the ballad of Lenore — and other like 
lines from other ballads which she had 
lately read with Wilfred — kept sounding 
through her brain ; — 



298 BOND AND FREE. 

*' Mutter, Mutter ! hin ist Mn ! 
Verloren ist verloren ! 
Der Tod, der Tod ist mein Gewinn ! 
O war' ich nie geboren ! " 

Beginning, bj-and-by, in her bewilder- 
ment — for the whole world seemed to reel 
since the blow Wilfred had struck at her 
heart — striking at her reverence for him — 
to say these lines, and such as these aloud, 
the sound of her own voice startled her. 

She rose, very feebly, and resumed her 
former seat, almost her former attitude. A 
short half-hour since and the trouble of her 
pure mind had been half-vague, half-sweet. 
Now, it was cruelly definite — all, all bitter ! 

She clasped her hands and lifted a look 
of infinite pain to the cloudless blue hea- 
vens — then she began to shiver, as if with 
deathly cold, and to sob. 

'^ If I could but wake and find I had 
dreamed a dreadful dream ! " she whispered 
under her breath. ^^ If I might but go 



BOND AND FREE. 299 

on loving him and reverencing him ! I 
did not want him to love me — like that.'^ 
She shuddered. " Have I made an idol 
of him ? Is this my punishment ? It is 
very hard — heavy, bitter. Lighten it to 
me, Father, or give me strength to 
bear it, or I die. I am young and very 
weak ; strengthen me to bear thy chas- 
tisement, God, or I must die ! " 

Eesting her aching brow upon her hands, 
she prayed fervently for Wilfred, resignedly 
for herself, and grew more calm. 

^^ My mother will come soon,'' she said, 
when she lifted up her suffering face. She 
went into the garden to bathe her brow 
and eyes with the ice-cold water of the 
spring ; but her tears mingled with the 
water as she remembered how Wilfred had 
stood beside her when she knelt there last 
— how tenderly he had gazed at her — how 



300 BOND AND FREE. 

sweet and soothing his voice had been as 
he called her " my child ! " 

When Mrs. Southern came home she 
found Felicia working in the garden. 

" It is too hot for you, child," she said. 

" I am quite cold, mamma,'* Felicia an- 
swered, keeping her face averted. She 
added ; — 

"Have you seen Wilfred ?'* 

" No — except at a distance while I was 
marketing. I expected to find him here." 

"He has been here, but he leaves for 
England to-night — so he could not stay. 
This afternoon, I think, he will come to 
bid you good-bye." 

That Felicia should be sorrowful Mrs. 
Southern found natural — and that she 
should strive to hide that sorrow was also 
natural in her. 

" His departure comes suddenly at last," 
she said ; and she went into the house, 



BOND AND FREE. 301 

thinking it as well to leave her daughter 
to herself- for a little while. 

Till dinner-time Felicia remained in the 
garden ; sometimes busy, but often pausing 
to gaze up the wooded hill-side to the blue 
sky, with wistful, wondering pain in her 
eyes — often to look down the lovely valley, 
the way Wilfred would go that night, till 
gathering tears and the aching at her 
heart would warn her to set to work again. 

At dinner-time her mother spoke of Wil- 
fred. After dinner, as mother and daughter 
were engaged with their needles, Mrs. 
Southern still talked of Wilfred. 

"Mother," Felicia said, presently, in a 
low but quite steady voice, " Do you know 
that Wilfred is engaged to be married ? 
I think it must be to that Miss Narpenth 
of whom he has sometimes spoken." 

Felicia did not look up to meet her 
mother's eyes. 



302 BOND AND FREE. 

"Has Wilfred told you this?'' Mrs. 
Southern asked. 

" Not that he is engaged to Miss Nar- 
penth — but I think you will find that it 
is so, and that there was some reason why 
he did not tell us of it." 

*' It is not likely, child ; he never spoke 
of her as if he loved her, and she is very 
wealthy — I know the name quite well. Wil- 
fred, whatever his faults may be, could not 
do a mean thing; and to marry for money 
a woman he does not love would be in- 
expressibly mean." 

Felicia said no more : she sat still and 
worked on, with that pain which it was mar- 
tyrdom to endure gnawing at her heart. 
Her mother's words had sharpened the 
pain, though she did not allow herself to 
believe that Wilfred could be going to 
marry for money. 

" He may have loved her — but, oh why 



BOND AND FREE. 303 

did he stay here ? " she said to herself. 
Over and over again she told herself — '' I 
must have had a bad dream. He cannot 
love me, like that, wickedly, while he is 
going to marry some one else." 

She debated within herself whether she 
should avoid Wilfred if he came to see her 
mother, or whether she should try and be- 
have as if indeed the interview of the 
morning had been but a dream. She 
wished to do what would pain him least ; 
for she knew, instinctively, that, suffer as 
she might, he must suffer more. 

While she yet debated he came, less to 
see her mother than to see her with a dif- 
ferent look upon her face from the one he 
had left upon it that morning. Felicia sat 
still for some time after he entered ; but, 
noting the profound and penitent depression 
betrayed by his every look and word, her 
heart seemed like to burst. An opportu- 



304 BOND AND FREE. 

nity of escape offered, and she embraced 
it : she ran up the garden and into the 
wood behind it, and stayed there till twi- 
light fell. As she then returned to the 
house, her face — which had worn a wild 
and tortured look — was as calm and fair . 
as the spring evening. 

Wilfred was not gone ; he was just 
going — he had been lingering in hope of 
receiving some sign of forgiveness to take 
with him. 

Mrs. Southern gave him a right 
motherly embrace, and many kind words 
of farewell. He hardly felt her embrace 
or heard her words. 

*^ You may give her a leave-taking 
kiss," the mother said, as she turned 
away to wipe the tears from her eyes, 
and Wilfred stood before Felicia. 

Felicia shrank a little, but she held out 
her hand. Wilfred had not ventured to 



BOND AND FREE. 305 

oflfer his — his eyes questioned hers wildly. 

" Can you ever forgive me ? " he mut- 
tered. 

" I do forgive you — I will pray for your 
happiness,'^ she whispered. She gave him 
one earnest and gentle look, and then 
turned from him quickly. 

When he was gone, Mrs. Southern said, 

^' It was strange of you to remain out- 
doors so long. Why did you go from 
the room ? " 

" I could not bear it any longer," 
Felicia answered, simply. 

Throwing herself at her mother's feet, 
resting her head on her knees, she shed 
many, but not passionate tears. These 
tears were the first and the last that her 
mother saw her shed for Wilfred. 

Mrs. Southern's face grew very grave ; 
she pressed for no confidence — no explana- 

VOL. II. X 



306 BOND AND FREE. 

tion passed between them ; she guessed a 
little, only a very little, of what was pass- 
ing in Felicia's heart. She stroked her 
soft hair caressingly, and spoke a few en- 
dearing words from time to time. 

" God comfort and console my dear 
good child ! " she whispered again and again. 

'' I am so tired, mamma ! I should like to 
go to bed," the poor girl said, presently, 
and then her mother led her to her room. 

Next day Felicia rose early as usual. 
The face that met her mother's eye was a 
serene face ; through all the day Felicia 
was calm, to all appearance cheerful. This 
was the first of many days that, to all 
outward appearance, were just such days as 
they had spent before they had met with 
Wilfred. 

The books she had read with Wilfred 
Felicia put away : she strove to put away 
from her life all that would most closely 



BOND AND FREE. 307 

remind her of him ; if it had been 

possible, she would dutifully have put 
away her heart for awhile. 



END OF VOL. 11. 



K. BORN, PEINTER, GLOUCESTER STREET, REGEXT'S PARK. 



UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS-URBANA 



3 0112 084215265